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Meet Our New 2012 Graduate Students

We welcomed eight new graduate students in August. Although they are new to IfA, they are already a very accomplished group.

Megan Ansdell

Megan Ansdell grew up in Hawai‘i and received her BS degree in astrophysics from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). She obtained master’s degrees in space management from the International Space University (France) and in international science and technology policy from the George Washington University (USA). As an undergraduate, she researched the brightness of galaxies, and during a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico), she performed physical modeling of asteroids. At the IfA, she hopes to pursue research related to astrobiology.

Benjamin Fulton grew up in San Jose, California, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2009. He then worked as a research assistant for Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT). He says, “My work at LCOGT was a unique opportunity to see what research astronomy was all about, and I loved it.” He worked on a variety of astronomy projects, ranging from supernovae cosmology to near-Earth objects, but his primary interest has always been the discovery and understanding of exoplanets. His favorite hobby is auto racing.

Benjamin Fulton
Sean Goebel

Sean Goebel is primarily interested in instrumentation, and he came to the IfA because of its strength in this area and its observational resources. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked on a project called FIRST, an experimental optical interferometry instrument that utilized single-mode fibers for high-resolution and high-contrast imaging. In his free time, he enjoys photography, especially landscape and night photography.

Matthew Hosek Jr. comes to IfA from Williams College in Massachusetts. As someone interested in observational astronomy who doesn’t yet know what he will specialize in, he finds the IfA “perfect” because of “the diversity of research” and “the remarkable access to Mauna Kea.” His previous research includes asteroid rotation, cometary dust production, and the properties of planetary nebulae. In his spare time, he likes to hike, watch football, and play ultimate Frisbee.

Matthew Hosek Jr.
Michael Kotson

Michael Kotson received his bachelor’s in physics from MIT, where he was involved in Kepler-based projects focused on detecting and classifying eclipsing binary stars. (NASA’s Kepler space observatory is looking for Earth-like planets.) His research goals are presently unclear, though he is interested in the problems of star and planetary formation.

Evan Sinukoff hails from Toronto, Canada. As part of the undergraduate Physics Co-op Program at McMaster University, he spent much of the past three years working at NASA Goddard on the development of an imaging technique to be used on future far-infrared space observatories. He also worked on Hubble Space Telescope data to characterize transiting hot Jupiter exoplanets. Since he is most interested in the detection and characterization of exoplanets and the search for habitable worlds outside our own, he is enjoying being a research assistant to Andrew Howard (see article in this issue).

Evan Sinukoff
Ehsan Kourkchi

Ehsan Kourkchi received a master’s degree in physics from Sharif University of Technology in Iran in 2006. For this degree, he did his thesis research on the cosmic microwave background at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India. He then worked at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences in Iran, where he studied dwarf galaxies in the local Universe. While at IfA, he would like to extend his studies to the more distant Universe.

Laurie Urban first came to the IfA as a 2010 summer REU student who worked with Hubble Fellow Adam Kraus on young stars in Orion. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University, she spent a year researching comets with IfA astronomer Karen Meech before starting graduate school. She is particularly interested in the evolution of planetary systems and hopes to learn more about them by studying comets, exoplanets, and protoplanetary disks.

Laurie Urban

Photos by Karen Teramura.