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NOAO Newsletter - CTIO Operations - June 2000 - Number 62


Undergraduates Enjoy A Busy Summer at CTIO

Donald W. Hoard

CTIO was home for a group of eager students during the Chilean summer (January through March) 2000. While their northern counterparts toiled through another dreary winter of class work, our four NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) students got a taste of astronomy research. The 2000 CTIO REU students (and their projects) were:

All four CTIO REU students will attend meetings of the American Astronomical Society (two students in June 2000 and two in January 2001) to present poster papers based on their REU projects.

The US undergraduate students were joined by two Chilean masters students in the parallel Programa de Prácticas de Investigación en Astronomía (PIA):

Two Chilean electronics engineering students doing internships at CTIO also participated in the summer student program:

Caption: The 2000 CTIO REU students on their way to the Humboldt Penguin Preserve at Los Chorros, Chile. From left to right in foreground: Ben Johnson (UCLA), Tanya Tavenner (Washington), John Bright (Mesa State College), and Melanie Blackburn (West Virginia).

In addition to their individual research projects, all of the astronomy students participated in observing runs on Cerro Tololo. These included working in pairs for two nights each of orientation on the Curtis Schmidt telescope with Donald Hoard, REU Site Director (to introduce them to observing techniques, instrumentation, and the CCD control system at CTIO), as well as additional observing runs with CTIO staff members. Other activities included weekly scientific seminars presented for the students by the CTIO staff, a "mini-course" on professional and career aspects of astronomy, and a tour of the Gemini South site on Cerro Pachón.

A highlight of the 2000 REU program was participating in the CTIO/ESO/LCO Scientific Meeting "Stars, Gas, and Dust in Galaxies: Exploring the Links," which was held in La Serena in mid-March (see accompanying article). In addition to their scientific activities, the students also made numerous weekend forays into the surrounding countryside, including trips to the Humboldt Penguin Preserve at Los Chorros, Fray Jorge National Park, and the Pisco Elqui region.

Exposure to the international astronomical community and the opportunity to work with scientists and students from other countries are key components of the CTIO REU experience. These young scientists will be part of the next generation of astronomers in an era of international telescope projects. The CTIO REU program offers valuable insight into the operation of a major astronomical observatory. Although not all US students are enrolled in degree programs flexible enough to accommodate an academic-term REU program, for those who are interested in a special opportunity to explore research in an observational and international environment, we offer a unique REU experience. Operating the program during the Chilean summer allows us to provide a rich scientific and educational program for both Chilean and US students.

We are now starting to plan for next year's REU program, which will run from January through March 2001. Look for announcements in future newsletters and check the CTIO REU Web page for the most up-to-date news and information about the program (http://www.ctio.noao.edu/REU/reu.html).


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