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Keysha Rosado, Biology Major, UMASS Lowell, Peer Mentor, Rising Senior

Keysha Rosado is an undergraduate student at University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML). She is majoring in General Biology. As a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program (SAO/LIP) intern, Keysha uses remote sensing data to study pollution in the Earth’s atmosphere. She is applying data from satellite and aircraft instruments to examine the uneven distribution of pollution within U.S. cities. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, she is interested in pursuing a career in cell biology research -- specifically genetics. Working at the CfA has helped her learn Python and the general process of high-level research. At UML, she has been the Social Media Coordinator for the Latin American Student Association (LASA).

Naomi Aponte, Environmental Engineering, UMASS Lowell, Rising Junior

Naomi Aponte is a student at University of Massachusetts Lowell majoring in Environmental Engineering, and a resident of the Milky Way galaxy. A galaxy is made up of gas, dust, and plenty of stars, all of which is held together by gravity. Astronomers learn about galaxies by using telescopes to make observations of the light they emit. However, can we trust that the methods they use to interpret these observations are trustworthy? To test this, we will use realistic galaxy simulations and their simulated 'observed' light. We will then compare what would be 'observed' to the 'truth' known from the simulations. This will help astronomers refine their observational fitting methods to make more reliable interpretations from data. This past semester at UML, Naomi worked under Professor Pagsuyoin in her research group. Her research focused on wastewater-based epidemiology for COVID 19 surveillance. She plans on continuing to work with this research group in the fall. Outside of academics, Naomi has a big interest in art and is a strong advocate for the conversion of STEM into STEAM. She is also very interested in baking and frequently tries out new recipes.

Kira Cote, Nuclear Engineering, UMASS Lowell, Rising Sophomore

Kira Cote is a Nuclear Engineering major at UMass Lowell, where she is an honors student. She is working with Robert Hargreaves at the Atomic and Molecular Physics division at the Center for Astrophysics. As an intern at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program, Kira works with the HITRAN and HITEMP spectroscopy databases, working to validate the performance of important molecular species, particularly against high-temperature experimental spectra, to ensure the present data can reproduce observations. Her project is to validate, compare and analyze the spectroscopic data for these two databases. Apart from this research, she is writing a novel in her free time.

Steve Espinoza Diaz, Physics Major, UMASS Lowell, Rising Junior

Steve Espinoza Diaz is an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell currently pursuing a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Computational Mathematics. Through his internship at the Center of Astrophysics, he hopes to gain valuable experience in scientific research while forming lasting connections with advisors and other colleagues pursuing STEM careers. As an intern at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Radio and Geoastronomy (R&G) Division, Steve works with Dr. Feng Long to understand the evolution of protoplanetary disk materials in the planet formation process. He analyzes high-resolution millimeter wavelength data from the Submillimeter Array (SMA) and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) to determine the properties of dust disk rings in the nearby Taurus star-forming region. Such dust substructures can be explained by planet-disk interactions. The goal of this work is to explore the ring properties in a statistically significant sample and to advance our understanding of the underlying young planet population at early stages. Aside from academics, Steve enjoys creating 3D models/VFX with Blender, video editing, and playing soccer.

Miranda Harkess, Physics Major, UMASS Boston, Rising Junior

Miranda Harkess is a rising junior at the University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMB) where she is currently majoring in physics. As an intern for the Center of Astrophysics (CfA), Miranda will be working with Dr. Joseph Hora to analyze and better understand the process of star formation in the outer regions of the Milky Way Galaxy. Her project involves using inferred spectra that was obtained from NASA's inferred telescope on Maunakea to analyze and understand the physical properties of young stars. Using this data will help determine the spectral types and show the relations of the properties for young stars to the IRAC’s photometry. Miranda hopes that the internship will help expand her knowledge of star formation. Also, she hopes to build her analytical skills. Outside of research and school Miranda loves to play tennis, take her cats on walks, hang out with her friends and family – and crochet.

Rachel Nere, Physics Major, UMASS Boston, Rising Senior

Rachel Nere is currently a physics major at the University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMB). After graduation she hopes to continue her physics studies in graduate school. Since childhood, Rachel has had a love for astronomy ignited in her and it has continued to flame. It also inspired her growing love for physics and STEM. Previously, she worked with Boeing as an Electromagnetic Effects Engineering Intern, where she performed lab studies on relative permittivity and dielectric materials. She is currently a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) collegiate chapter, where students are provided guidance and tips for the professional world, such as resume building and interviewing. She relishes the opportunity to work with Dr. Rodolfo Montez Jr. this summer. Through this experience, she hopes to gain new skills, collaborate, learn, and obtain more practice with her coding skills in Python. As an intern in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program (SAO/LIP) at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Rachel will be working on better characterizing evolved stars to help understand how binary processes impact the end to a star's life.

Wasiim Ouro-Sama, Computer Science Major, UMASS Lowell, Rising Junior

Wasiim is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is currently pursuing a major in Computer Science with a focus on Data Science, as well as a minor in Mathematics. At the Center for Astrophysics, Wasiim is working with Eric Koch on modeling the 3D structure of dwarf galaxies in our Local Group using observations of the 21-cm atomic hydrogen line taken at the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. The goal of Wasiim’s project is to measure the galactic rotation curve and 3D galaxy shape in order to identify whether atomic outflows are driven by localized starbursts of these galaxies. Wasiim hopes to use his time at the CfA to explore the intersection between Data Science and Physics, as well as gain experience in doing research.