Astronomy students have 'amazing opportunity' at conference

conference meetingFive SUNY Oswego students accompanied Dr. Shashi Kanbur of the college’s physics department to the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle in January to present their research.

“It was my first professional conference, which made it all the more exciting,” said Greg Feiden, a junior physics major with an astronomy minor. Added Jim Young, “It was an amazing opportunity that I never thought I would have, especially in my undergrad (years).”

Feiden and Young are both juniors majoring in physics with an astronomy minor. Feiden said he plans on pursuing graduate studies in either astrophysics or particle physics. Young said he plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in aerospace and aeronautical engineering. Also attending the conference were physics students Daniel Crain and Sean Scott and math major Rick Stevens.

Kanbur said more than 2,500 people attended the conference from all over the world, “giving a good snapshot of current research in all of astronomy.”

Scott said, “Walking around and looking at the posters other people were presenting, it was good to see . . . just how active astronomy is right now. There is a realization that you’re among them,” he added, “and that’s a good feeling to have.”

Kanbur noted that, with five posters, Oswego had the most presentations in the session on “Variable Stars and the Distance Scale.”

“The other posters were all by authors from research-driven universities,” he added.

The students said they were impressed by the company they found themselves in. “I was surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in astrophysics and cosmology, and to be presenting my research on the same level as people who receive millions of dollars in grants was phenomenal,” Feiden said.

“I talked with a few researchers there, a few graduate students and a couple of engineers, one working for NASA on one of the new Hubble cameras and one from Northrup who is working on the new space telescope that is going to replace Hubble. It was an amazing feeling to be talking to these people who normally you would think of as being on a pedestal,” he said.

The students credited Kanbur for making the opportunity possible for them. “Working with Dr. Kanbur has been a once in a lifetime experience,” Feiden said. “I never thought I’d be doing this type of research two years ago when I came in as a freshman. He has really made it possible for students here to make a name for themselves so that other programs recognize Oswego as a place with intelligent and hard-working students.”

Young added, “Working with Dr. Kanbur is great. He is very enthusiastic about the work we are doing, and I am excited to continue working with him this coming semester.”

The students’ five PowerPoint poster presentations can be downloaded from Kanbur’s research page online:

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PHOTO CAPTION: Cepheids in Seattle—SUNY Oswego physics majors Sean Scott (left) and Jim Young explain their project to Theresa Moody, a Project Astro coordinator in New Jersey, in January at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. They were among five Oswego students who accompanied Dr. Shashi Kanbur of Oswego’s physics faculty to the meeting to present their research.

(Posted: Jan 24, 2007)