TMT scientists and staff will team up again with others from the local astronomy industry in bringing science to Big Island students next week as part of the “Journey Through The Universe” educational initiative.
The annual “Journey Through The Universe” from March 7-11 brings local students and teachers together with 83 astronomers, engineers and others in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to share their passion and knowledge. The goal of the weeklong program is to inspire local students to aim high in their education and future careers.
In its 12th year of existence, the program has engaged over 50,000 students and visited over 3,000 classrooms in Hawaii. The program was initiated and coordinated by the Gemini Observatory and is a partnership between the State Department of Education Hilo-Waiakea School Complex, Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, the Mauna Kea observatories and NASA.
Among the TMT staff scheduled to participate at the Big Island schools that week is Breann Sitarski, a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA who works under noted astronomer Andrea Ghez. Sitarski joins Gordon K. Squires, an astronomer from the California Institute of Technology, and works on the Thirty Meter Telescope project. TMT's Sandra Dawson will participate as a Journey Ambassador in the classrooms.
Breann Sitarski is a graduate student researcher in the Galactic Center Group at UCLA. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Astrophysics from UCLA, and continued there for graduate school, where she is currently working on her Ph.D. in Astronomy. Sitarski studies dusty objects near the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy to get a better understanding of where they come from, what they are, and how they survive in such a hostile environment. She also studies the adaptive optics system on the Keck II telescope to try to correct for aberrations that the NIRC2 instrument itself is making on astronomical data.
Gordon K. Squires is an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, working with the Thirty Meter Telescope As well as NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and other space telescopes with Caltech involvement. His research explores the old, cold and distant universe, understanding how galaxies formed billions of years ago, and the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that fills space.
The Thirty Meter Telescope Project has been developed as collaboration among Caltech, UC, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), and the national institutes of Japan, China, and India with the goal to design, develop, construct, and operate a thirty-meter class telescope and observatory on Mauna Kea in cooperation with the University of Hawaii (TMT Project). The TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO), a non-profit organization, was established in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT Project. The Members of TIO are Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada); the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate. The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation has provided major funding.
For more information about the TMT project, visit tmt.org, www.facebook.com/TMTHawaii or follow @TMTHawaii.