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  1. Lyndele von Schill
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndelevonschill/
  3. Director of Diversity & Inclusion
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  1. Angelina Gallego
  2. graduate student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Minnesota, Hampton University, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  1. Alia Wofford
  2. Graduate Student
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Howard University

The NAC and NINE Programs

NSF Awards: 1519126

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate, Graduate

The COVID-19 pandemic created both challenges and opportunities for student-centered programs that historically relied upon face-to-face interactions. In March, 2020, the National Astronomy Consortium (NAC) and the National and International Non-traditional Exchange (NINE) programs pivoted to virtual research experiences, making creative use of student expertise, technology, and a determination to give participants excellent summer research opportunities. In a significant shift, NAC graduate student alums designed and led the program. In this video, participants describe the unique flavor of the 2021 summer program and Fall Annual Meeting, and discuss the ways in which the virtual format created a more inclusive, diverse experience for the participants.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (13 posts)
  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 10, 2021 | 10:30 a.m.

    Thank you for visiting the NAC video in which we briefly share our experiences pivoting from a traditional face-to-face summer research program to a virtual environment. This experience was novel in several ways: 

    (1) five research sites collaborated to offer virtual research to students

    (2) the entire cohort of 15 students - previously physically located at research sites around the country - met together, several times each week, to discuss their research, engage in professional development learning, and participate in cohort-building/bonding activities, and 

    (3) for the first time, the summer program and annual meeting were developed and delivered by NAC program undergraduate and graduate student alums.

    The NAC program’s focus is on mitigating and removing barriers to full participation in STEM by minoritized students. COVID, and the murder of George Floyd, combined to create a sustained, distressing environment. The NAC program, led by graduate student NAC alums, stepped up to use their knowledge and experience to create and implement a new kind of summer research experience and annual meeting. 

    We'd love to hear how your REU or summer student program adapted to the challenged created by COVID.

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 11, 2021 | 08:35 a.m.

    Good Morning Everyone!

    The student voices in this video were inspiring! It was so evident that this program was transformative for many of the participants. I’d love to hear a bit more about what a given participant might have done throughout the program. What was the nature of their research (I'm sure they are all involved in different projects, so maybe just an example or two)? How did their participation in this program support their research?  How did you measure how this program impacted their research? In some sense the video perfectly answered that question with the enthusiastic testimonies of the participants themselves, but I'd love to hear if you queried them through a survey to figure out how this virtual community impacted their involvement in research.

     
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    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 11, 2021 | 11:33 a.m.

    Thank you for your interest in the NAC program! I will let Alia Wofford and Angelina Gallego (who actually led, and/or participated in, the summer program and annual meeting) say more about the students' experiences.

    The NAC program is much more comprehensive than typical REU programs: programming includes research projects with leading astronomers, but also offers extensive professional and personal development opportunities, along with role models and real conversations about the social and structural barriers that affect minoritized students. The NAC program attempts to mitigate (and change) those barriers. Importantly -especially critical last summer- the NAC program offers access to mental health resources. 

    Surveys of the students consistently demonstrate that the peer- and near-peer mentoring, and the strong cohort model, are arguably the most important and impactful components of the NAC program. The students themselves, and especially the now-graduate student alums, are absolutely key to the success of the program (meaningful support for the student participants).

    Regarding the students' research: I can offer a link to the talks that the NAC students gave about their research projects:

    https://web.cvent.com/event/62809842-b619-446f-...

    The projects were conducted with scientists from NRAO, Space Telescope Science Institute, Princeton University, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and included impressive research in the realms of both radio and optical astronomy:

    Structure of the Stellar Disk in the Outer Milky Way - Leonardo Clarke

    GMC Dust Masses and CO-to-Dust Conversion Factors in the Whirlpool Galaxy - Samantha Garza

    Looking into the History of Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC1313 & Focuses on Finding the Chemical Abundance - Autumn Winch

    Analyzing the Surface Brightness of Galaxies in the Perseus Cluster - Malik Bossett

    Understanding the LEE of Heavy Elements by Constraining Nuclear Input - Tuesday Cabang

    Analysis of Properties of Quasar Host Galaxies - Jasmine Washington

    Galaxy Mass Estimates from Tracer Kinematics - Allison Erena

    Predicting the Galaxy Merger Rate to Be Observed By JWST - Teddy Pena

    Forecasting the Sensitivity for Low-luminosity Galaxies in the Local Volume with LSST+Roman+Euclid - Carlos Ortiz-Quintana

    Searching for Twins of PTF11kx - Jacquie Hernandez

    Source Separation: Host Galaxies of Quasars - Rahim Salhi

    Intrinsic Shapes of Low Surface Brightness Galaxies - Majid Mohammed

    Comprehensive SEDs of Intermediate to High Mass Stars from Infrared to Radio - Azia Robinson

    The NGC 1275 High Velocity System: The Verging Merge - Aliyah Postell

    Very Large Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Imaging of Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS) Detections - Mihika Rao

     

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: George Hein

    George Hein

    Facilitator
    Professor Emeritus
    May 11, 2021 | 02:27 p.m.

    Lyndele, Angelina & Alia,

    This sounds like a terrific project.  How hard/easy was it to have the students connected with astronomical viewing as you moved to online learning? This might be a good way to dramatically expand the original program.

     
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    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 13, 2021 | 12:50 p.m.

    Hi George, thanks for this question.

    Fortunately, much of astronomy research is conducted remotely; the data collected is stored on servers, and most astronomers (if not all) work on computers. The major challenges were, I think, social and psychological: we're just not used to building virtual mentoring relationships. Certainly, the students missed the opportunity to socialize together in person, and to turn to their office mates for help with problems. We will be operating virtually again this summer, and will very likely keep, permanently, a virtual component to future summer research experiences even after it is safe to return to in-person sessions. 

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 11, 2021 | 08:35 p.m.

    Lyndele,

    Thank you for this amazing response to my questions. I am truly blown away by this project. These students are not only working with leading astronomers, but doing incredible research projects, and then becoming part of a peer-based community that has the power to transform their lives. 

    In particular I appreciated this line from your response: "Surveys of the students consistently demonstrate that the peer- and near-peer mentoring, and the strong cohort model, are arguably the most important and impactful components of the NAC program. The students themselves, and especially the now-graduate student alums, are absolutely key to the success of the program (meaningful support for the student participants)."

    As a mathematics instructor, one of the best programs I ever worked with was called "The Merit Workshop" at UIUC (in Urbana-Champaign), which replaced the standard college calculus recitations sections (2 hours a week) with a six-hour collaborative workshop. The students basically taught each other and the instructors were facilitators, very rarely offering hints or guidance, but mostly redirecting student questions to their peers. Such an incredible community developed and many of the students (all from underserved populations) went on to become math, science, and engineering majors.  Also, very often the top ten scores or so on the large lecture exams were earned by students from this program.

    So anyway, again, I am just blown away by the work you are doing and wish this could be adopted in all sorts of different fields. The lives more programs like this could change!

     

     
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    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 12, 2021 | 02:51 p.m.

    Thanks so much, Amy! The Merit Program looks wonderful (I just looked it up!). I would love to chat with you about this. If you have time over the next few weeks, perhaps we could meet via Zoom?  

  • Icon for: Amy Alznauer

    Amy Alznauer

    Facilitator
    Lecturer
    May 15, 2021 | 02:38 p.m.

    Absolutely! Just shoot me an email at any point and we can figure it out.

  • Icon for: Ashley Wall

    Ashley Wall

    K-12 Teacher
    May 12, 2021 | 01:14 p.m.

    It sounds like this virtual format has really enhanced the students' research experiences through the connections with researchers from around the world and through this student-driven approach to research. Great work! I would love to hear more specifics about the students' research.

     
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    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 12, 2021 | 02:54 p.m.

    Thanks for asking about the students' research, Ashley! In October, the students presented their summer research, via Zoom. The videos and/slides are available here: https://web.cvent.com/event/62809842-b619-446f-....

    Most of the projects were centered around astronomy (both optical and radio), and were presented at the American Astronomical Society Annual meeting in January 2021.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Lyndele von Schill
  • Icon for: Martin Storksdieck

    Martin Storksdieck

    Facilitator
    Director
    May 16, 2021 | 04:38 p.m.

    Sorry for being late to the game: lots of undergraduate and HS research had to move online; for some, that was almost a natural, for others not so much. Can you speculate under hat circumstances URE are conducive to remote work?

  • Icon for: Amy Oliver

    Amy Oliver

    May 18, 2021 | 05:34 p.m.

    I found it refreshing that the students were running the program and really able to take charge of the learning experience, especially during such a critical pivot to the virtual learning environment. What were the most important learnings you took away from the experience that others can apply to make their own virtual learning and research environments more successful?

  • Icon for: Lyndele von Schill

    Lyndele von Schill

    Lead Presenter
    Director of Diversity & Inclusion
    May 18, 2021 | 05:42 p.m.

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for this observation! I agree; I was so impressed by the way that the alums stepped up to plan and implement, on very short notice, a new kind of summer experience. As it happens, the students wrote a paper about their experiences, their take-aways, and their recommendations!  It is available here: http://arxiv.org/abs/2105.04713

    My lesson? The alums are much better at planning and running student-focused events than I am. This summer, the alums will again be running the program, incorporating their lessons learned and recommendations.

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