Katie Chynoweth
Katie Chynoweth (2008)
New Hydrogen Clouds in the M81 Group of Galaxies
Hydrogen Clouds in the M81 Group of Galaxies.
The NRAO Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

More Summer Student Stories

The NRAO Summer Student Program:
Celebrating Five Decades of Training Young Scientists

Katie Mae Chynoweth
NRAO Pre-doctoral Fellow & Graduate Student,
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

NRAO Summer Student: 2003, Socorro
NRAO Mentor: Travis Rector
NRAO Project: "Searching for Radio-Quiet BL Lacs" and
"Active Galaxies at Milliarcsecond Resolution in the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey: Cetus Field"

Ph.D., Vanderbilt University (in progress)
B.A., Physics, Colorado College

My introduction to the NRAO occurred between my junior and senior years at Colorado College, a small liberal arts school. I participated in the REU program that summer in Socorro, working with Travis Rector. Our research that summer resulted in one of my first professional publications, and two presentations at major science meetings, an IAU Symposium and an American Astronomical Society meeting.

Then in my second year of graduate school at Vanderbilt University, I suddenly found myself without an advisor or a thesis project. Fortunately, I came to Green Bank that summer to work with Glen Langston on what has become my thesis project, and I am now supported as a NRAO Pre-doctoral Fellow.

My thesis is titled "On the Origin and Fate of Neutral Hydrogen Clouds in Nearby Galaxy Groups: Tracing Galaxy Interaction History". In this work, I am exploring the role that galaxy interactions play in the formation of neutral hydrogen (HI) clouds seen in and around galaxies, such as the mysterious High Velocity Clouds that surround our Milky Way. Using the NRAO Green Bank Telescope (GBT), I am conducting sensitive observations of 5 nearby galaxy groups, as well as follow-up observations with the Very Large Array (VLA) of any HI clouds that are detected in those groups. I am also carrying out simulations of multiple-galaxy interactions, with particular emphasis on generating analogs to the HI clouds that are observed.

My advice to students contemplating the NRAO summer programs is to go for it! While at the NRAO, I have met many people and made many friends. I have also made professional connections that virtually guarantee future opportunities for research.

I would especially recommend the NRAO programs to students from liberal arts colleges with limited research opportunities. I would say that my NRAO summer experiences have been invaluable for helping me learn what it is like to do research and influenced my decision to attend graduate school in astronomy.

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