Summer Research at BUmfuchs | July 11, 2011
Hi everyone! My name is Miriam Fuchs, and I’m a junior Astrophysics major at Haverford. This summer I’m working with Professor Andrew West (HC ’99) in the Astronomy department at Boston University. So far it has been a blast!
My research focuses on white dwarf and M dwarf binary pairs. Using spectroscopic data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we are able to look at multiple spectra of each binary that have been taken over a short period of time. Over the course of a couple of hours, each binary will typically have 3-8 exposures taken. Because these binaries are so close together and moving so quickly, their spectra will have visibly shifted from one exposure to the next. Because of this, we can use Doppler shifting to calculate the radial velocities of the white dwarfs and M dwarfs and learn more about their general kinematics.
Working at BU has been an exciting experience. Having multiple floors of astronomers, and lots of grad students to consult has definitely highlighted some of the differences between working at a large research university and a liberal arts college. It’s also been great working with a Haverford alum – while I’m no longer in the basement of the INSC, it still feels like a Haverford lab; there’s a lot of collaboration between professors and students, everyone helps out one another, and there’s a general sense of being part of a community within our group. More than anything else, my research experience this summer has taught me how much I enjoy conducting research.
Being in Boston also has its perks! There’s delicious food all around, great museums, and lots of things to do. Later in the month, our lab is taking a group field trip to Fenway to watch a Red Sox game – I’m really excited!
All in all, it’s been a fantastic summer so far. It’s been great reading everyone’s updates on the Astronoblog. Hope everyone else is having a wonderful summer!