A reminder about email

Please use your OSU email account for all University business.  This includes anything concerning classes and enrollment, academic advising, financial matters, or records of your progress towards a degree.  OSU’s email system has safeguards for the protection of confidential material, whereas other mail systems may not.  Indeed, I am not supposed to reply to emails about university business from non-OSU hosts, except to tell a correspondent to please write again using the OSU system.


Paid undergrad research positions in Astronomy

Professor Terndrup (that’s me!) anticipates that there will be one or more paid positions for undergraduate researchers in the Autumn 2018 semester.  These will require a commitment of 10 to 20 hours per week, negotiable with the selected student(s), starting approximately the first week of classes and continuing through the end of finals week.  Depending on performance and other considerations, the positions may be extendable through the end of February, 2019.  The positions are contingent on the availability of funding.  Salary is anticipated to be $12 / hour.

The goal of the project is to understand how reliable are ages determined from stellar rotation rates.  In particular, we will focus on how the orbits of stars in the Milky Way, which are different for young and old stars, are correlated with ages derived from stellar rotation.

The selected student(s) will be part of a larger group which is attacking this problem in a variety of ways.  Consequently, there will be opportunities for students to focus on statistical analysis, data visualization, mining of data from the astronomical literature, or measurement of stellar properties from observational data. Preference will be given to students who have completed Astronomy 2292.

To express interest in the position, please send a short (say, 250 words) essay describing your interest in astrophysics, your current commitments for the fall semester, and what skills you can bring to the position (programming, previous research experience, etc.).  Send this by email to terndrup.1@osu.edu.  While there is no deadline, preference will be given to those to respond by July 1, 2018.

The submitted essay does not constitute a formal job application.  Selected students will be asked to apply formally for the position during July.

You may send inquiries about these positions any time to me using the email address above.

Instructional Aides needed for Autumn

We are seeking Instructional Aides (IAs) for Autumn Semester 2018.  IAs are expected to attend class and assist professors with copying and distributing class materials, setting up computers and A/V equipment, possibly grading, or whatever else is needed.  Pay starts at $9.00 per hour. 

This position is available only to Ohio State students enrolled in the Autumn semester.  No experience is necessary, and this is a good opportunity for early-career students to learn a lot of the subject by attending lectures.

If you wish to apply, fill out the survey at the link below by the end of the day Friday, June 29th.


In filling out the application, please use your OSU email address.

Advice to a young scientist

Here’s an article I set aside some time ago for posting on this blog.  It is called Advice to the Young from Pioneering Astrophysicist Ceclia Payne-Gaposhkin.  Spoiler: tenacity and a sense of purpose are important factors for success in our field.

The short summary at the top of the article is particularly interesting:

Work with love, embrace the unexpected, let no one else make intellectual decisions for you, and always remain in direct touch with the fountain-head.

At the end of the article there are a number of links to very interesting reads on similar themes.  Check out one of them, and give us your thoughts in the comment section.  I’d love to hear your opinions about whether advice articles like these are helpful.

Beautiful science visualization

Check out Earth: A Global Map of Wind.  This is a world map, which you can pan and zoom around, showing the current wind patterns on the earth.  Lovely!

Are there good data visualizations, particularly of astronomy, that are your favorites?  Put a link in the comments below.  I’m collecting these things for a new course we are launching in the spring of 2019.  Called Astronomy 1221, it will be an introduction to astronomy focussing on data analytics.  More details on the new course in future posts, and how the course would be a benefit for Astro majors.

Astronomy 2895 (Autumn semester)

Hi everyone,

It’s been a long time since I posted anything on the blog.  Spring semester was crazy, with both professional and personal matters that required my full attention.  But now that summer is here, I’m able to get back to posting news and other items of interest to majors in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

I would like to bring your attention to our seminar Astronomy 2895.  This seminar is intended for first- and second-year students, but anyone can take it.  The course description reads

Prospective astronomy majors will meet weekly with different astronomy faculty to learn about current research topics, facilities, and opportunities available in the undergraduate astronomy program.

In the upcoming semester, we will have several lectures and Q/A sessions with faculty, postdocs, and senior students, who will tell us about their research into astrophysics, physics education, and many other topics. We will also have lots of discussion on study habits and survival skills for Astro majors, along with small research projects you can undertake in areas that interest you. This is a great way to see the variety of research and teaching opportunities in our department, to meet others who are excited by astrophysics, and (especially for early students) to explore ways to be successful in astronomy or any other topic.

The seminar meets Tuesday afternoons from 4:10 to 5:05 in 1005 Smith Laboratory.

Banneker-Aztlan Institute at Harvard

This morning I received an announcement from Harvard about a summer research opportunity for students from groups underrepresented in astronomy.

From their website, the Banneker-Aztlan Institute

The Banneker-Aztlán Institute summer program is a full-time, ten-week research and study experience. We prepare undergraduate students of color for graduate programs in astronomy by emphasizing research, building community, and encouraging debate and political action through social justice education.

Requirements are demographic information about yourself, a resume, and short essays on personal development and your aspirations for astronomy.  Academic transcripts and letters of recommendation are not required.  Students receive a competitive stipend to cover food and other personal expenses during the program.

Who should apply?  Again, from their website:

Our programs target undergraduate juniors from backgrounds historically marginalized from academia and the astronomical sciences in particular. While there is a preference for students of color, we welcome applications from students of all backgrounds. Our application review process considers historical disparities and the tendency for traditional application practices to reproduce racial disparities in academia.

The deadline is February 15, so if you are interested you should move quickly.

What do astronomers do?

Write blog posts!   And other stuff….

Here’s a good article called So you want to be an astronomer? It contains the results of a large-scale study of the many varied activities of professional astronomers.

A new study including 478 US astronomers provides a glimpse into the world of those who practice astronomy today. “What Do Astronomers Do: A Survey of U.S. Astronomers’ Attitudes, Tools and Techniques, and Social Interactions Engaged in Through Their Practice of Science” was completed by AUI’s STEM Education Development Officer, Tim Spuck.

Give it a read! One of the problems of studying at a university is that the astronomers you meet are mainly professors. This is only one path to take. The astronomical world is very large, and there are dozens of ways to contribute to the astronomical sciences.

Elementary school education opportunity

Here’s an email I received recently.  Note that the first orientation session is very soon.

Are you interested in helping elementary students understand science by engaging them in hands-on activities? Then Scientific Thinkers is for you! The Scientific Thinkers program is designed to bring OSU undergraduate and graduate scientists into the 1st – 5th grade classrooms at Innis Elementary, a Columbus public school. The Scientific Thinkers program sends scientist volunteers out to the school every other week during the school year to teach a hands-on lesson (the lessons will be available prior to going to the classroom).

Before going to the school, each volunteer must complete an orientation. The orientation for this program will be Tuesday, January 23, at 1:00 pm in 1080 Physics Research Building. Immediately following the orientation, we will also have a training session covering the visits in January and February.

It is important to note that the classroom visits are on Tuesdays and you are in the classroom teaching from 2:00-3:00pm, but you need to be ready to leave campus by no later than 1:00 pm in order to make it to the school and have time for set up. Also, the school is about twenty minutes away from campus. We help set up carpools for the volunteers.

Please let us know if you are unable to attend this orientation session, but are interested in volunteering for the program. Please RSVP to scientificthinkers@gmail.com if you plan to attend.

For more information about the program, please visit: https://u.osu.edu/cemscientificthinkers/

If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering, please reply to scientificthinkers@gmail.com.

Thanks and see you at orientation!

Michelle McCombs, Annika Diaz, and Erin Rinehart
Scientific Thinkers Coordinators