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Undergraduate Courses: More Choices Than Before

Because the IfA is primarily a research organization, many outside the Institute do not realize how much undergraduate teaching is done by IfA faculty. In fact, IfA faculty teach almost all of the undergraduate astronomy courses on the UH-Manoa campus, over 2,200 student semester hours per year, and the amount is increasing.

New courses include Introduction to Archeoastronomy, taught by Esther Hu, and Astronomical Origins, which Ann Boesgaard will teach for the first time in the spring. The astronomy laboratory course, introduced by Joshua Barnes last spring (see "Na Kilo Hoku" no. 7), has proven very popular. It was heavily oversubscribed, so this semester two sections are being offered, and there will be three sections taught in the spring.

For those who have already taken an introductory course and want to learn more, there is Evolution of the Universe, taught this semester by Antoinette Songaila Cowie, and Astrobiology, which will be taught by Karen Meech in the spring. Meech is the principal investigator of the University of Hawaii Astrobiology Lead Team, which has received a major research grant from NASA. In spring 2003, she taught an undergraduate directed research course, Experimental Lab Exercises.

One way of increasing the choices for undergraduates with a strong physics background is to offer courses as both graduate courses and upper-level undergraduate courses. This was recently done with David Jewitt's course about the solar system, and it will be repeated with István Szapudi's cosmology course in the spring. Undergraduates and graduate students attend the same seminar, but they receive different homework assignments and examinations.