Three UCSC undergrads honored for presentations at national astronomy meeting

Catherine Manea

Three UC Santa Cruz undergraduates were among the winners of the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle in early January.

Catherine Manea, Zafar Rustamkulov, and Wynn Jacobson-Galan each presented their research in a poster session at the meeting and won a Chambliss medal in recognition of their work.

The Chambliss Awards are given to recognize exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students who present at one of the poster sessions at the meetings of the AAS. There were 360 students in the competition at this meeting, and 20 medals were awarded.

"Four judges came to judge my presentation and scored it against a list of criteria," Manea said. "Winning this award was a great way to end my first AAS meeting. I learned so much about presenting and look forward to improving, as I know it is a crucial skill in this field."

Manea worked with an international team including UCSC astronomers Bruce Margon and J. Xavier Prochaska on the discovery of a star so odd that only a few others with similar features are known. Her presentation was titled "Hiding in plain sight: Serendipitous discovery of a rare, low-excitation star near the Large Magellanic Cloud."

Rustamkulov worked with astrophysicist Jonathan Fortney to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. His presentation was titled "Assessing the role of clouds on the spectra of exoplanet atmospheres."

Jacobson-Galan worked with a team led by astrophysicist Ryan Foley to study a class of exploding stars known as Type Iax supernovae. His presentation was titled "Evidence of helium emission provides progenitor constraints in Type Iax supernovae."

The Chambliss Awards are named for longtime AAS member Carlson R. Chambliss, who taught at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania from 1970 to 2003. Chambliss not only donated the funds to mint the medals, but also designed them himself.