Student Awarded Grant to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Solar REU program

Saint Michael's College junior Ashley A. Armstrong, a physics and philosophy double major, was awarded a grant to participate in the 2012 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Solar REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program.  Ms. Armstrong, the daughter of Mary Jo and Steven Armstrong of Rome, N.Y., graduated from Rome Free Academy before coming to Saint Michael’s.

Ms. Armstrong will receive a $4,500 stipend to support her work during the 10-week program. The highly competitive program had only eight student participants in 2011, and they came from colleges like Williams, Haverford, and St. Andrews.

“I am both extremely grateful and excited to be spending the summer working for the CFA (Center for Astrophysics),” Ms. Armstrong said.

“I'm looking forward to gaining a better perspective on the different kinds of research going on throughout the astronomical community, as well as seeing what graduate level research might be like,” she added. “This experience is sure to shape my future plans in a very important way. I think that it's going to be a summer of adventure in Cambridge, as I explore our Sun through the project titled: "Thermal Energy Content of Solar Flares."

While the exact program of research for Ms. Armstrong has yet to be determined, it will focus in some way on the observational astrophysics of the Sun. This could include focus on the thermal energy content in solar flares, observations and modeling of magnetic fields in flares, X-ray observations, and so forth, SMC physics professor Dr. Alain Brizard explained.

Ms. Armstrong is a student of Professor Alain Brizard and of SMC Physics Professor, Dr. John O’Meara. Both are widely published researchers, Brizard in the field of plasma physics and O’Meara in the field of astrophysics.