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Elizabeth McGrath 2005 Farrar Scholar

by Joan Yanagihara

Elizabeth McGrath

Elizabeth J. McGrath is the 2005 recipient of the Helen Jones Farrar Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholarship. Now entering her fifth year as a graduate student at the IfA, she is already a co-author of several published papers. Her thesis topic is "Origins of the Earliest Galaxies: Probing the Mechanisms of Spheroid and Active Galaxy Formation at High Redshift," and Alan Stockton is her thesis advisor.

Coming to the University of Hawaii for graduate school was an easy choice "because of all the telescope access," McGrath said. "UH beats any other grad school hands down for both the number of facilities available and the quality of those facilities." McGrath has observed on nearly every telescope on Mauna Kea, and has also utilized data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This summer she will be teaching Astronomy 110, Introduction to Astronomy, through the UH Manoa Outreach College and analyzing new data from HST.

McGrath is a graduate of Vassar College, where she double-majored in physics and astronomy. She was attracted to Vassar for its long tradition of women in astronomy--Maria Mitchell, the first woman astronomer in the United States, was a professor at the college. She credits her mother, who had studied physics and introduced her to astronomy as a youngster, and Debra Elmegreen, her advisor in college, with encouraging her to study astrophysics. At Vassar, McGrath also studied Gaelic and music, and she is an accomplished flute player.

McGrath is only the third woman to receive the Farrar award. K.D. Leka and Susan Ridgway were co-recipients in 1991. ARCS Scholars must be U.S. citizens studying for a PhD at UH who exhibit excellence in their chosen field.

McGrath presented a poster and talk titled "Origins of the Earliest Massive Galaxies" on April 23 to a group that included members of ARCS and UH Manoa Chancellor Peter Englert. She and the other ARCS Scholars were honored at the annual ARCS banquet held at the Waialae Country Club on April 29.

More information about the ARCS program