It’s that time of year again. The Winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society is nearly upon us. To make the most of your time at the meeting, we at AstroBetter would like to remind you of some resources available on the Wiki.
First, the post that everyone attending a winter AAS meeting should read (even if you’re not a first-timer), Jason Wright’s guide to Getting the Most Out of AAS Meetings. This resource is especially useful for students attending their first AAS meeting!
Jason has updated this post with specific sections regarding harassment and the wonderful Astronomy Allies program. ALL ATTENDEES need to familiarize themselves with the AAS Anti-Harassment Policy. The AAS Winter Meeting is a meeting of professional astronomers (not a nightclub) and we should all behave as such.
This is a guest post by Emily Levesque, Rachel Bezanson, and Grant Tremblay. Emily is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, Rachel is a Hubble Fellow at the University of Arizona, and Grant is an Einstein Fellow at Yale. Their post below references this paper.
Last week, AAS President Meg Urry issued an open letter regarding use of the Physics GRE, a required element of applications to the vast majority of astronomy graduate degree programs in the United States.
Meg’s letter questions whether or not the General and Physics GREs are useful predictive tools for future success in graduate school and beyond. The problems surrounding standardized tests and their apparently inherent bias (with strong correlations between scores and the gender, race, and socioeconomic status of test-takers) are well-established (check out Helms 2009, Steele & Aronson 1995, and Miller & Stassun 2014, among others). Standardized exams also preferentially exclude students with disabilities. Finally, the General and Physics GREs are extremely expensive; between registration and score report fees for these two exams, an applicant applying to ten astronomy graduate programs in the U.S. must spend over $500 just on test-taking, in addition to the potential cost of traveling to a testing center. This financial burden is profoundly exclusionary, and likely imposes a socioeconomic pre-selection on applicant pools across the board.
Dexter Jagula is a co-founder of SkyWatch, a company that is creating innovative tools in time domain astronomy. SkyWatch were the winners of the 2014 NASA International Space Apps Challenge, and have completed a term in the Google for Entrepreneurs program.
When studying transients, capturing observations of such events is extremely time-sensitive. It’s not only important to receive a transient trigger, and know when a candidate has been detected, but just as important to know what activities have been logged in observing that transient.
The Gamma-ray Coordinates Network (GCN) is perhaps the most renowned source of disseminating high-energy transient events, predominantly gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Once observations have started for a particular source, GCN Circulars are issued by observers as a way to communicate their observations and findings.
Dear undergraduate aspiring astronomer, are you tired of bashing your head against a table trying to figure out which schools to apply to, or what to say in your personal statements?
Advisors of said undergraduates, are you tired of your students bashing their respective heads against your respective desks?
Well, to both groups, we say never fear! As always, we at AstroBetter have your back with the resources contained within the AstroBetter Wiki. Here you can find advice on what to do when scouting out programs and ultimately making your decision (yes, this won’t happen for a little while yet, but keep it in mind!). Don’t forget to take FULL advantage of the Winter AAS Meeting to meet professors and graduate students who are already at schools you might be interested in. I want to emphasize this point. MEET THE GRADUATE STUDENTS! They are almost always super-helpful and willing to chat with undergraduates about their programs. This is especially relevant at Undergraduate Orientation session, which will be held on Monday, January 4, and runs from 5:30pm – 7:00pm.
I would also like to call special attention to the pages concerning paying for grad school, and what aid is potentially available to you.
Just be sure to leave any feedback or helpful tips or resources of your own creation or finding in the comments that we might incorporate them into AstroBetter’s resources.