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STARtorialist volunteers are out-of-this-world

When we bring the STARtorialist BOOTHtique to an American Astronomical Society meeting, we recruit local students to staff the booth and keep things running smoothly. By providing students with all-access conference registration, we both get awesome helpers, and they get to experience the meeting and network with other students and astronomers! For this blog post, we’re highlighting a few of the stellar students who worked with us at AAS 240 in June 2022 and AAS 241 in January 2023 and sharing what they thought about the experience.

 Photo of Ian

Ian Rain-Water

4th year undergrad at University of Washington (UW)

Ian is an undergraduate interested in star formation, stellar and galactic evolution, AGN, and time domain analysis, working with Professor Scott Anderson on changing look quasars. Ian says, “I found out about the STARtorialist AAS booth from a departmental email that they were looking for volunteers and thought it'd be fun and a good idea. I learned a lot about a variety of topics working at the booth and met astronomers from around the world so I would say I have learned a lot more working at the booth than a short answer could do justice.”

Ian’s favorite design is our Moon phases beanie, which has apparently been super popular around Seattle and UW! 

 Headshot of Eulrika

Eulrika Wu

4th year undergrad at UCLA

Eulrika is an undergraduate at UCLA interested in astrobiology, habitable planets, and planetary atmospheres. She recently presented a project on modeling plume ejections from icy moons at AAS 241 and is now working on a project about Pluto’s craters. Eulrika says, “I first heard about STARtorialist from my grad student mentor Briley Lewis, who recommended me to volunteer for the booth at the 240st AAS meeting in Pasadena, and I'm super glad I did. Working at the booth encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and interact with the customers, which of course are mostly astronomers and scientists, and talking to those people really helped me to get a better insight into those careers…having this opportunity made my second conference and my first time poster presentation much easier since I already knew what’s happening.”

 Headshot of Sherelyn

Sherelyn Alejandro (@AstroShair)

3rd year undergraduate at Hunter College CUNY

Sherelyn works with BDNYC, the Brown Dwarfs in New York City group at CUNY & the American Museum of Natural History—also home to our very own Emily Rice and Kelle Cruz. Her work focuses on creating spectral energy distributions for some of the coolest star-like objects using data from multiple telescopes, plus developing software for the SIMPLE-archive, which is a collaborative database of low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and directly-imaged exoplanets. “Astronomers may study vastly different things, but if there is anything that can unite us, it's astronomy merchandise!” says Sherelyn.

 Image of Jack

Jack Ford

4th year undergraduate at University of Washington (UW)

Jack is a senior studying Physics and Astronomy at UW, working on astronomical instrumentation with applications to exoplanets and the circumgalactic medium (CGM). He’s currently working with Professor Sarah Tuttle on a CubeSat design to study the CGM. “Since I did not have any poster to present, and AAS was conveniently coming to Seattle, volunteering seemed like a fun way to spend the week while also getting free access to all the events and presentations at the convention,” says Jack. “I had a blast working with Emily, Debbie, Kelle, and the rest of the volunteers from UW and CUNY. This was my first time at AAS and I was amazed by the incredibly social atmosphere that lasted through the whole week. I had the opportunity to chat and get to know a lot of astronomers from around the country and I learned how closely connected the astro community really is. Working the STARtorialist booth was an amazing experience and I would definitely volunteer again!”

If you are an astronomy professor or student and an AAS meeting will be in your area in the future, please keep this opportunity in mind!

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