Changes to advising

Starting in August, Dr. Scott Gaudi will be the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Astronomy.

Beginning August 1, David Zach will start working for the Departments of Astronomy and Physics as a staff undergraduate advisor.  Mr. Zach as most recently served as an advisor for STEM students (principally pre-med) at Penn State.  You will receive email or other communication when he is ready to see students.

Moving on

For the past several years, I have had the great pleasure of being the principal undergraduate advisor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Astronomy.  It has been a joy to work with all of you and your predecessors in the Astronomy and Astrophysics major.

But now it is time for me to move on.  During the next few months, I will be stepping down from my position in order to devote more time to my teaching and my research.  I do not view these activities as more important than advising, but as other ways I can continue to serve you as you grow and advance in the sciences.  The leadership in the Astronomy Department has fully supported me in this decision, and are strongly committed to maintaining a vigorous and welcoming program in the years ahead.

During this time, the Department will be making many changes to the undergraduate advising.  There will be a new Director of Undergraduate Studies and an expanded Undergraduate Studies Committee, and the new people will undoubtedly bring a number of fresh ideas for what the major will be like in the years ahead.  Together with the Department of Physics we will be hiring a staff advisor, and this will result in increased services in recruitment, enrollment, degree planning, and career advice.  Please continue to follow this blog for updates on these and other changes, and for information about the services we will offer as the new academic year begins.

I write this with gratitude for how you have shared with me your successes and struggles, your ambitions and plans, and above all your excitement about the Universe.  I hope that I have been able to contribute in a small way to your time here at Ohio State, and I want all of you to know that I’d be delighted to hear from you any time if you need anything or if you want simply to chat and share what’s going on.


Research Assistant position with the ASAS-SN project

The ASAS-SN project is looking for a Research Assistant.

The Research Assistant will work with Professors K. Stanek and C. Kochanek on the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN). Duties include: daily quality control of data obtained by 20 ASAS-SN telescopes; verification of supernova and other transient candidates; release of confirmed ASAS-SN discoveries to the public; response to public queries concerning ASAS-SN Sky Patrol data; coordination of queue observing schedule on the MDM 2.4-m telescope. The selected person will also participate in follow-up observations and data reduction of ASAS-SN targets.

Apply at

Requirements: Bachelor’s degree required by time of hire; 1-3 years of research experience in astrophysics; minimum of one year of programming experience by start of employment.

If there are any question, please contact Kris Stanek at

11th Annual Biard lecture: “The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars”

The Ohio State University Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP) presents:

 The 11th Annual R. Jack and Forest Lynn Biard Lecture in Cosmology and Astrophysics 

“The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars”

 Speaker: Dava Sobel, renowned author of several popular science books


Wednesday 27 March, 2019
7:00—8:00pm: Lecture and Q&A
8:00—9:00pm: Reception with the Speaker
Performance Hall, The Ohio Union

More information at

This event is free and is suitable for all audiences.  You must register for tickets at


Public lecture tonight on Life in the Universe

Come see a talk by one of the top researchers in the field of astrobiology.  Shawn Domagal-Goldman, who is the Chief of the Planetary Systems Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will speak on NASA’s Search for Life in Places Near and Far.

The talk will be tonight, Thursday, March 7, from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. in 1153 Smith Laboratory.  The talk is free, and no registration is required.


Ideas, please!

I am thinking about designing a First Year Seminar for the Autumn semester of 2019.  The people that run this program tell me

The First-Year Seminar Program provide[s] unique learning experiences for first-year students. Seminars are capped at 18 first-year students to allow for significant student discussion and participation.

I did a couple of these about 15 years ago, and they were really fun to teach and fun to be in.  My goal then was to present some really exciting ideas about astronomy and to show how science works.

I could think of ideas on my own – and I have – but I would like to hear from all of you.  What would be a really fascinating topic that you would like to learn about or wish you had a seminar in?  If you could have a prof teach you just what you wanted for a semester, what would it be?  No matter that you won’t be first-year students next year, because (1) once in a while a more senior student can be admitted to a seminar, and (2) I just might want a senior student to help me design and present the seminar. This would be a good experience for anybody who wants to go do any teaching in the future.

Please present your ideas in the comments below, and let’s discuss them.  The ideas can be about anything: science and science fiction, ETs or extraterrestrial travel, sociological issues – you name it.

If you ever took a First-Year Seminar, tell us:  how did it go?  What were the best parts?  That sort of discussion will help me design the new course.

I have to decide what to do by February 20, so please chime in soon.

Thanks!  I’m looking forward to a lively discussion.

Summer research: Interdisciplinary Research Experience in Computational Sciences

I recently received an announcement about a summer research opportunity that brings together students from many disciplines to work on issues in the computational sciences.  From the announcement:

The Center for Computation & Technology (CCT) at Louisiana State University (LSU) provides an ideal setting for the REU student to become familiar with interdisciplinary research. With research groups exploring gravitational waves, complex emergent phenomena in material science, or computational music, the participants work on cutting edge research in Computational Sciences.

The students learn how to use the most current cyberinfrastructure tools with individually designed training sessions targeted to their specific degree of preparation. In addition, since most CCT research groups collaborate with international researchers, REU students are exposed to how international collaborations work.

One of the possibilities is to work in computational astrophysics!

For details, navigate your way to the program website.  The deadline for applications is February 15.

Graduating this semester?

If you have not already done so, please make an appointment with me to receive a Major Program Form, which lists the courses we list as counting toward you degree.  You’ll need this form when you file for graduation.  This also applies to those who are in a minor program in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

And … most importantly … congratulations!  I’d be delighted to hear in the comments below what you are planning (or hoping for) after you graduate.



Summer research in the astronomical sciences

The National Science Foundation provides support for undergraduate research at many institutions across the country.  At their site, you can see a list of supported programs for 2019.  There is a great variety of programs in all sorts of areas, from imaging and computation, solar and stellar physics, planetary sciences, to extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.

Undergraduate research is increasingly a must-have for graduate school, and many employers in STEM fields or the data sciences want you to have a solid research-oriented internship.

Please carefully check out the various programs before applying to see any eligibility criteria, what materials are required, and (above all) when the application deadlines are!  (Some of these are pretty soon….)

These are typically highly competitive programs, but don’t talk yourself out of applying.  Most places look for people from all sorts of backgrounds and experience, and don’t just rank people by GPA.  And somebody has to give you your first chance!

I would be very happy to use the comment thread on this post for people to ask questions about application strategies, how to write a good application letter, how to select people to write letters of reference.  I have lots of opinions (and experience!) about those matters, but I would rather the discussion be student-driven than to come down to you from on high.

In case you missed it, Astronomy recently announced the competition for our summer research program.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at Ohio State

The Department of Astronomy and the Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics are pleased to announce the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Astrophysics (SURP).

This program provides a 12-week paid internship in research or education under the supervision of a faculty member or postdoctoral fellow.  The 2019 program will run from May 8 until July 26.

Full details, including criteria for eligibility, are included in the above link.  The application deadline is Monday, February 11, 2019.  (Note that the deadline is earlier than it was in previous years.)

Write to me any time if you have questions about the program.