News rss feed

2016 D. J. Van Blerkom Research Scholarship Awards

April 21, 2016

The 2016 winners of the David J. Van Blerkom Research Scholarship Award are Jonah Chaban and Kendall Sullivan.

Astronomy Alumni Seminar

April 4, 2016

Astronomy Alumni Seminar, April 13, 2016 at 7:00 PM in the Commonwealth Honors College Event Hall. Guest speakers bios:

Daniel Pomeroy is the program manager of a new policy initiative at MIT designed to enhance the impact of MIT research on public policy. Previously he worked in Washington, DC where he was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellow in the office of Senator Edward J. Markey and post-doctoral fellow at the National Academy of Sciences. Dan received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in June 2012, where his research focused on searching for new fundamental physics phenomena as part of the ATLAS experiment at CERN, and he received a B.S. in physics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005. He also has extensive experience in grassroots political organizations, running LGBT rights campaigns as well as field offices during the 2008 elections.

Rouwenna Lamm is a Kentucky native with a B.A. in Astronomy and Physics from Smith College. She is the National Program Director at the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). The organization's mission is to educate young people students on the science of climate change and empower them to take action. Rouwenna joined ACE as a founding member of the New England team in 2009 and has helped ACE educate over 2 million students nationwide. She has personally presented to over 65,000 students, trained over 750 student leaders, directed the organization’s outreach strategy, and built ACE teams in New England, New York City, and Ohio. As National Program Director, she oversees ACE's education and leadership programs, helps steer organizational strategy, creates curriculum, and manages the program staff. Rouwenna got her start doing climate organizing as a student leader in Massachusetts Power Shift while at Smith College. She organized Massachusetts' first youth-led climate conference for 500 people and laid the foundation for an ongoing college student network of activists. She worked at the Union of Concerned Scientists for a year before joining ACE. Rouwenna has a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership in Boston, and is a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program. She loves to go on long bike rides, hike, travel, dance, and eat good food with friends.

Kevin Harrington interviewed by NPR

April 4, 2016

Astronomy undergraduate senior, Kevin Harrington, was recently interviewed by NPR affiliate WCAI.

Prof. Pope & Prof. Calzetti appointed to serve on STDTs

March 22, 2016

Professor Alexandra Pope and Professor Daniela Calzetti were appointed to serve on the new NASA Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) for the Far Infrared Surveyor and the Large UV/Optical/Near-infrared Telescope Mission Concept Studies, respectively. Over the coming years the STDTs will play a central role in preparing compelling and executable mission concepts for consideration by the 2020 Decadal Survey.

Kevin Harrington selected for 21st Century Leaders Award

March 14, 2016

Kevin Harrington has been selected as one of 10 graduating UMass seniors for the 21st Century Leaders Award and will be honored during the graduation week. In addition to his extensive and successful research work, Kevin has been an active leader in many different organizations on and off campus, including teaching drumming in the African House, leading meditation sessions, actively participating in international peace leadership organizations, and peer mentoring. That is on top of being a double major in astronomy and psychology/neurosciences. Please join me in congratulating Kevin for his well deserved recognition. -- Professor Min Yun

Steven Wagner this year's Fields Scholarship recipient

March 8, 2016

Steven Wagner, a Junior Astronomy major, is the winner of this year's Fields Scholarship.

Astronomy undergrads study galaxy formation at Kitt Peak

Feb. 8, 2016

Located in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona is Kitt Peak National Observatory, where four UMass astronomy students traveled over winter break to map galaxies in the dark desert skies.

Prof. Gopal Narayanan & Ron Grosslein interviewed by local paper

Feb. 1, 2016

Professor Gopal Narayanan and Ron Grosslein, UMass Astronomy Department Research Engineer, were interviewed by a reporter from the Northampton Daily Hampshire Gazette newspaper in 2015 regarding their efforts on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). See the article on today's front page.

Astronomy Major Patrick Drew Receives AAS Chambliss Award

Jan. 25, 2016

Astronomy major Patrick Drew was recently notified that he is the recipient of the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award for his poster presentation at the American Astronomical Society, held in Kissimmee, Florida January 4-8, 2016.

FCAD Summer Intern Program

Jan. 19, 2016

We are now accepting application for our FCAD summer intern program. Click here for more information.

Aaron Dunbrack, Rising Researcher, Destined for Success

Jan. 12, 2016

Junior astronomy major, Aaron Dunbrack, has been recognized as one of five honorees of the Rising Researcher Program at UMass Amherst.

Allison Kirkpatrick Named Top 3 Pick in AAS Brochure

Jan. 12, 2016

Astronomy Department graduate student Allison Kirkpatrick was recently named as a top three pick in the AAS brochure advertising the AAS science journals.

Post Doctoral Associate Position Available

Dec. 3, 2015


Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research position in star formation theory at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst.

The successful candidate will collaborate with Professor Stella Offner in investigating the origin of stellar multiplicity. Topics will include characterization of molecular cloud structure, proper-ties and evolution of star-forming cores, and the physics of star formation. The successful can-didate is also encouraged to maintain an independent research program.

The position is initially offered for two years, with renewal for a third year based on satisfactory performance. The desired start date is August 1, 2016, but earlier or later dates can be arranged. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Research funds for publications and travel will be provided. There is also the opportunity to take extended research visits to Steward Observatory to work with co-investigator Professor K. Kratter.

Qualified applicants must have a PhD in Physics, Astronomy, or a related field. Experience with topics such as star formation, hydrodynamical simulations, and synthetic observations is pre-ferred.

Further information about the Department can be found at

Included Benefits: Postdoctoral researchers in the UMass system receive benefits, including health insurance.

Email inquiries: Professor Stella Offner (

Applications must be submitted online to: Please in-clude a curriculum vitae (including publication list), a brief (3 pages at most) description of past research accomplishments, and a summary (1 page, optional) of the proposed independent re-search program. Applicants should also provide contact information for three professional refer-ences. Applicants should apply by the priority deadline of February 1, 2016 in order to ensure consider-ation.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities and encourages appli-cations from these and other protected group members.

Prof. Calzetti Awarded Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship

Dec. 3, 2015

Professor Daniela Calzetti was recently awarded the 2016 Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship by the Swedish Research Council.

Prof. Daniela Calzetti recipient of Visiting Professorship

Nov. 5, 2015

Prof. Daniela Calzetti is the recipient of the 2016 Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship from the Swedish Research Council. The Professorship is awarded annually to an internationally prominent researcher in the areas of natural and engineering sciences.

In connection with the Professorship, Prof. Calzetti will be spending six months during the Spring and Summer of 2016 at the University of Stockholm (Sweden).

The official text of the award can be found at:

Details of the Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship can be found at:

Freshman Astronomy major Kaci Naughton receives award

Sept. 22, 2015

Kaci Naughton, a freshman astronomy major on the Astrophysics BS track, is awarded the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fellowship (PURF) for 2015. She will be mentored by Kevin Harrington, who is a senior astronomy major and a member of the Commonwealth Honors College with an extensive research experience in the department.

Professor Emeritus William Irvine elected to 2nd 3 year term

Aug. 20, 2015

William Irvine, Professor Emeritus in Astronomy , has been elected to a second 3 year term on the Steering Committee of Division F of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Division F , "Planetary Systems and Bioastronomy", has some 1700 members whose research is supported by 3 Commissions --- "Meteors, Meteorites, and Interplanetary Dust"; "Exoplanets and the Solar System"; and “Astrobiology”. Professor Irvine is a Past President of the Astrobiology Commission.

The International Astronomical Union was founded in 1919 with the mission of promoting and safeguarding the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. Its more than 11,000 individual members from 73 countries are professional astronomers from all over the world at the Ph.D. level and beyond. The scientific and educational activities of the IAU are organized by its 9 scientific Divisions and through its specialized Commissions and Working Groups. The long-term policy of the IAU is defined by the triennial General Assembly and implemented by the Executive Committee. The American Astronomical Society and UMass’ Department of Astronomy are sending Professor Irvine to participate in this year’s General Assembly in Honolulu.


UMass Amherst Summer Solstice

June 16, 2015

UMass Amherst Sunwheel and sky-watching events mark the Summer Solstice on June 21.

NY Times article "Black Hole Hunters"

June 9, 2015

Dennis Overbye's latest video, currently on the front page of the New York Times online, features videos by Professor James Lowenthal (Smith College/FCAD Professor) from the LMT/GTM, which is an important part of the new Event Horizon Telescope project.

Aaron Dunbrack '17 winner of 2015 Goldwater Scholarship in Educ

May 14, 2015

Astronomy major Aaron Dunbrack '17 one of four winners of the 2015 Barry Goldwater Scholarship in Education. Professor Daniel Wang is the faculty sponsor.