NRAO Summer Student: 1974, Charlottesville
NRAO Mentor: Dick Sramek
NRAO Project: "An Interferometer Survey of Normal Galaxies"
Ph.D. Indiana University, astronomy
M.A. Indiana University, astronomy
B.A. Wellesley College, physics and astronomy
My first exposure to radio astronomy was at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in the summer of 1973, but it was during the following summer, when I was an NRAO summer student, that I really learned what radio astronomy is all about.
My NRAO mentor for the summer was Dick Sramek. My project involved the reduction and analysis of radio observations that Dick had made of normal galaxies with the three-element Green Bank interferometer at S-band (2.7 GHz) and X-band (8.1 GHz). This project was a precursor of what became my life's work: studying normal galaxies that are also radio sources. In addition to analyzing the radio data, Dick introduced me to multi-wavelength astronomy: we studied galaxy morphology on the Palomar Sky Survey prints, and we investigated our galaxies' properties at non-radio wavelengths using various astronomical data catalogs.
Immersion in a national observatory was intellectually nourishing. I enjoyed being with the diverse NRAO scientific and technical staff. There were wide-ranging discussions about science, and about pushing instruments to open new frontiers. I learned a great deal and also had fun. For example, the summer student "offices" were in the auditorium. So we witnessed every step in the creation of a film about the Green Bank telescopes. We saw various incarnations of that film at least fifty times. Fortunately, it improved over the course of the summer!
As the summer progressed, Dick came to understand that I was hooked on this radio astronomy stuff, that I enjoyed getting my hands dirty working with telescope hardware and instrumentation. I returned to NRAO the following summer for a couple weeks to work with Dick on the paper that became my first professional publication: "An Interferometer Survey of Normal Galaxies" Haynes, M. and Sramek, R. 1975, Astron. J. 80, 673.
Participating in the NRAO summer student program influenced and helped shape my career. I encourage every student to apply to one or more of the summer student research programs offered by the national observatories.