Adriana Medina, Computer Science, UMass Lowell, Rising Senior, Peer Mentor
Enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Adriana Medina is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science with an interest in software development and cyber security. She spends her free time enjoying nature, volunteering, taking up new hobbies, spending time with friends, and listening to all sorts of music. While still unsure of where she wants to take her future, Adriana believes that the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory - UMass/Latino Initiative Program will shine some light. Advisors Dr. Sarah Jeffreson and Gus Beane guide her toward crafting the first extensively detailed census of giant molecular cloud (GMC) lifecycles across an entire simulated disk galaxy. The research centers around unveiling the physical properties of the atomic hydrogen clouds that lead to GMC formation and therefore star formation. This is done using Python, self-consistent models of chemical pathways, and cloud properties obtained from these models.
Deyvi Andrade-Aviles, Electrical Engineering, UMass Lowell, Rising Sophomore
Deyvi Andrade-Aviles is an undergraduate Electrical Engineering student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. During his internship with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program, he will be working with Dr. Jason Eastman to redevelop an existing codebase written in 2014 that is used by MINERVA (MINiature Exoplanet RV Array ), a collection of robotic arrays of telescopes located in Arizona. The current state of the codebase is challenging to maintain due to the deprecation of Python 2.7 and its incompatibility with Python 3, making minor upgrades problematic. Deyvi will work under the supervision of Dr. Eastman to migrate the code to Python 3, cleaning up the code in the process and implementing a variety of Python modules to create a direct Python interface and essentially generalize the code. Their research will provide not only valuable astronomical insights along the way, but also provide the opportunity for optimized operational efficiency for a wide variety of observatories in addition to MINERVA. Aside from academics, his hobbies include filming and editing videos, collecting and building a large assortment of Lego sets, and coding for fun---specifically with LaTeX and C/C++.
McKenna Blake, Computer Science, UMass Lowell, Rising Junior
McKenna Blake is a rising junior at University of Massachusetts Lowell, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. As an intern at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory-UMass/Latino Initiative Program, she will be partnering with Adam Foster and Nancy Brickhouse in the High Energy Astrophysics Division working on spectroscopy. She will be applying her computer science skills to maintain and enhance the AtomDB atomic database, used for spectral modeling and data analysis of X-ray emitting plasma. Working on software development, she will create interfaces between two programming languages to ensure an efficient code to run these spectral models. McKenna is a learner at heart and is grateful for this experience. She is excited to gain skills in programming and analysis and to apply her knowledge. Outside of class, she enjoys going on road trips, roller skating, and spending time with friends and family.
Ciara Espaillat, Mechanical Engineering, UMass Lowell, Rising Senior
Ciara Espaillat is a rising senior at UMass Lowell pursuing a mechanical engineering degree with an aerospace studies minor. She is currently concluding a co-op experience where she is working at a chemical engineering lab, developing a variety of conductive inks and adhesives. Working with Dr. Edward Tong as an intern in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program, Ciara will study and analyze the thermal conductivity of different components used inside the cryostat that Dr. Tong is developing for the Sub-millimeter Array (SMA). Her research will enable the optimization of the thermal performance of the cryostat and assist with the design and development of future cryostats for radio-astronomical instrumentation. Ciara is beyond grateful for this internship opportunity and hopes that it will allow her to expand her technical knowledge in programming and other areas, as well as guide her through her future undergraduate and graduate studies. Aside from academics, Ciara enjoys listening to music, drawing, and spending time with her friends.
Namson Nguyen, Computer Science, Worcester State University, Rising Junior
Namson Nguyen is a rising-Junior at Worcester State University (WSU) majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Astronomy. He currently works as a student worker at the university's IT department and is also an active Peer-Assistant Learning (PAL) mentor for General Physics. As an intern in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program, he will be working with Dr. Garrett Keating to develop an advanced "radio adaptive optics" system, leveraging measurements of various properties of the atmosphere to improve the performance of the Submillimeter Array (SMA) during periods of poor atmospheric stability. It is his hope that this research will help support his graduate studies and future career in the Astronomy field. In addition to academics and work, Namson enjoys learning new languages, playing the piano and violin, and baking desserts for family and friends.
Bladimir Nunez, Computer Science, UMass Lowell, Rising Senior
Arthea Valderrama, Computer Science, UMass Lowell, Rising Junior
Arthea Valderrama is a rising Junior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell majoring in Computer Science. As an intern in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program, she will be working with Dr. Adam Foster and Dr. Nancy Brickhouse in the High Energy Astrophysics Division. Arthea is working with AtomDB, a database supported by Python that consists of atomic data that models X-ray emission from astrophysical plasma, and XSPEC, a C++ based model for special analysis. Arthea is attempting to connect these models by developing interfaces between C++ and Python. This research is important in optimizing access to newer AtomDB models in the XSPEC framework, so that they are more efficient and can be updated in the future. In her free time, Arthea enjoys exploring new hobbies, jogging, watching films, and going to museums. Arthea is thrilled to strengthen her skills in software development, and deepen her interests in astronomy.