Announcing the 2024 Summer Research Prize Winners

I am so excited to announce our 2024 cohort of Summer Research Prize winners, whose work spans a wide range of astrophysics! Now in its third year, the Summer Research Prize is awarded to support new and ongoing undergraduate research projects, and help students work closely with their mentors at the University of Washington. This prize is made possible through the generous support of our community, faculty, and friends, and has been featured in the UW College of Arts and Sciences’ Newsletter.

Now, on to our 2024 winners!

Thank you to the generous community that supports truly stellar student research at the University of Washington, especially our principle donor again this year, DiRAC Advisory Board member David Brooks. You are helping the next generation of scholars to build the most advanced datasets, algorithms, and tools to explore and understand the universe!

The Camera is in the Building!

Image credit: Olivier Bonin/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Hello friends,

I hope your spring has been positive, and that you got a chance to experience the Solar Eclipse in April and the historic Northern Lights showing a couple weeks ago!

I’m excited to share that the LSST Camera has arrived at the Rubin summit in Chile! The official word came late yesterday that the camera made the flight from California, and was driven up the observatory a few days ago. This is the last major component of the Rubin Observatory, and it will soon be integrated into the Simonyi Survey Telescope to begin calibration and testing. We at DiRAC, UW Astronomy, and the whole Rubin/LSST community are thrilled to see the hardware finally on site!

As you know, this is the largest digital camera of its kind ever created, and will be in near-constant use for a decade as we search the sky for asteroids, supernovae, and the unknown unknowns! As the first test data starts to arrive, and with Survey operations starting next year, I am SO EXCITED to see the discoveries that will rewrite our textbooks. 

Beyond software and science development, we’re busy recruiting and continuing to build the team that will make these groundbreaking discoveries possible at UW.  We are in the midst of grant writing and fundraising to allow us to bring a new cohort of diverse and energetic scientists to Seattle, and I invite you all to continue to be involved in this journey with us. 

Finally, thank you for your support and enthusiasm over the past 6 years.  I am always so heartened to see how many people share our vision to understand the Universe through data.

Keep looking up!

Jim Davenport

Associate Director, DiRAC

DiRAC Presents at the UW Foundation Board

Last week we were delighted to be able to present in front of the UW Foundation Board at their first meeting of the academic year. Our fearless Director Mario Juric, the newest member of our leadership team Sarah Greenstreet, and myself shared a tiny slice of the incredible work the DiRAC team has produced over the last six years, the excitement we feel with the beginning of Rubin/LSST right around the corner, and a few of the science highlights from our renowned Solar System research group.

This event also allowed us to thank our community of supporters, including and especially Charles and Lisa Simonyi whose gift launched DiRAC and our DiRAC Fellowship program, the many Husky Giving Day donors who have enabled our Summer Research Prize, especially our board members David Brooks and Jeff Glickman, and our colleagues and leadership across the UW and College of Arts and Sciences. The careers launched, discoveries made, and friendships built are all enabled by this support.

After the UW Foundation Board presentation, we were honored to host a deep-dive event for the Directors at the eScience Institute, showcasing the breadth of science happening in the Department of Astronomy. It was a banner day for UW Astronomy and DiRAC, and I’m so grateful to our team for making it happen. A very special thanks to our outreach director, Nikolina Horvat, for making these events happen!

I look forward to welcoming everyone at future events we’re planning, and can’t wait to see what new surprises about the Universe we’ll find this year…

James Davenport
Associate Director, DiRAC

Introducing the 2023 Summer Student Research Prize Winners

Thanks to the generous support of the DiRAC Advisory Board, and the local UW Astronomy community, we are proud to introduce our Student Research Prize Winners for Summer 2023! This prize supports undergraduate research in astronomy at the University of Washington, providing students a stipend to focus on their independent research projects under the supervision of UW faculty and scientists. Previous winners of this prize have presented at local and national research conferences, contributed to peer-reviewed publications, and continued on to graduate school. Our summer program has also been featured in the UW College of Arts and Sciences’ Newsletter.

Celeste Hagee
John Delker
Katelyn Ebert

This year we are excited to award 5 summer prizes, including students across a wide range of astronomy and astrophysics research topics:

Thank you to the generous community that supports truly stellar student research at the University of Washington, especially our principle donors David Brooks and Jeff Glickman. You are helping the next generation of scholars to build the most advanced datasets, algorithms, and tools to explore and understand the universe!

Husky Giving Day 2023 was a success!

From James Davenport, Associate Director of DiRAC and Astronomy Research Professor

On April 6, 2023, DiRAC and UW Astronomy participated in the annual Husky Giving Day event. Last year we were able to launch or successful Summer Research Prize program for undergraduates, which was recently profiled by the UW College of Arts and Sciences Newsletter. This year we are aiming to continue the summer undergraduate prize, as well as kick off a new graduate student support program!

I am proud to announce another successful drive for support of our student research programs, with more than 20 individual donors raising a total of over $15,000! I want to especially recognize the contributions of members of the DiRAC Advisory Board, particularly David Brooks and Jeff Glickman, who have once again been instrumental at supporting this program. We look forward to awarding these 2023 summer research prizes, and I can’t wait to see what amazing research our students pursue.

This kind of community-driven support is critical for the programs at DiRAC and UW Astronomy. We have one of the largest undergraduate astronomy programs in the nation, and a world-class cohort of graduate students. If you would like to support the work of these amazing young scientists at any level, please consider making a gift!

Keep looking up, and THANK YOU all for helping us in our mission to explore and understand the universe.

-James Davenport