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Thu, 11/21/2013 - 9:16am -- cahsps

January 2016
2015 AST Ph.D. graduate finds evidence for a newborn planet around a nearby, young star
This work was directly motivated by Valerie’s Ph.D. dissertation project, in which she obtained very similar Gemini Planet Imager results for another nearby, young star (V4046 Sgr). - AAS NOVA - A Gap in TW Hydrae's Disks - Cosmic Diary - Observing planet formation at close range



December 2015
Next-generation infrared detectors win NSF fundingRIT and Raytheon Vision Systems collaboration could advance astronomy
Scientists, including AST Faculty Donald Figer, at Rochester Institute of Technology and Raytheon Vision Systems are getting closer to developing infrared detectors grown on silicon wafers for ground-based astronomy. Other application areas—such as homeland security, remote sensing and biomedical imaging—could also benefit from the technology.
December 2015
Podcast: Jorge Salazar from TACC discusses the mysteries of black holes with Manuela Campanelli, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation.
November 2015
RIT professor shares black-hole research at supercomputing conference Nov. 18: Manuela Campanelli gives invited talk at SC 2015
Campanelli, director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at RIT, will present “Revealing the Hidden Universe with Supercomputer Simulations of Black Hole Mergers” on Nov. 18. She will share recent developments in the field of numerical relativity and relativistic astrophysics.
September 2015
Dr. Andy Robinson, recent AST graduate Dr. Davide Lena and current AST Ph.D. student Triana Almeyda presented results from several research projects at the Torus 2015 Workshop, hosted by the University of Southhampton in Winchester, UK, September 14 - 17. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss recent progress in understanding the so-called "dusty molecular torus", that surrounds the central supermassive back holes in active galactic nuclei. Triana was selected to give an oral presentation on her work developing computer simulations of the time-dependent response of the infrared dust emission from the torus to variations in the AGN luminosity. Dr. Robinson’s team also presented posters based on three recent publications, led by Dr. Lena (, AST Ph.D. student Billy Vazquez ( and former post-doc Dr. Dinalva Sales ( 

Photo: AST Ph.D. student Triana Almeyda presents her talk “Modeling the Reverberation Response of the+DustyTorus Emission of NGC6418” at “Torus 2015: The unification scheme after 30 years”, Winchester, UK, 14-17 September 2015.
September 2015
RIT on TV: RIT Alumna Valerie Rapson encourages women in STEM - on WNYT
Valerie Rapson a PhD graduate of the AST Program at RIT now leads outreach efforts at the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady, NY.
Her goal is to provide hands-on experience for students - especially female and minority students - in the hope that more will be engaged and pursue education and careers in the sciences. 
August 2015
Of the 15 papers selected as high impact research publications in the focus areas of the
forthcoming International Astronomical Union General Assembly, two were led by members or graduates of AST.
One by Joel Kastner and his former AST PhD student Rudy Montez (2010):
J. H. Kastner, R. Montez Jr., B. Balick et al. 2012 ,The Astronomical Journal 144 58
The other by AST PhD graduate Fabio Antonini (2011, advised by David Merritt):
Fabio Antonini, 2013, ApJ 763 62
August 2015
Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defenses: 
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125
Friday, August 7, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125
Monday, August 10, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125
July 2015
Simulated map of missing satellite galaxies could answer dark matter puzzle
May 2015
Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Valerie Rapson Infrared Investigations of the Composition and Structure of Nearby Protoplanetary Disks
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Gosnell Hall 8 - 1250
April 2015
Physics sophomore Luke Shadler accompanied Dr. Andy Robinson to spend a week visiting the Astrophysicsresearch group at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil, during April. Dr. Robinson and recent AST Ph.D. graduate Dr. Davide Lena are working with Dr. Thaisa Storchi-Bergmann and her group at UFRGS on a joint project to map gas flows around supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei, using observations made with the Gemini North and South Telescopes on Mauna Kea Hawaii, and Cerro Pachon, Chile, respectively. Luke began been working with Dr. Robinson  during his freshman year, using a sophisticated computer program to model the structure and velocity field of the gas flows for comparison with the observations. His work expertise with this program so impressed Dr. Storchi-Bergmann that he was personally invited to UFRGS, to provide hands-on training for her graduate students in the use of this software. 

Photo: RIT Physics Sophomore Luke Shadler about to begin a presentation during a visit to the Astrophysics Research group at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

April 2015
RIT PhD student Valerie Rapson and RIT Faculty Joel Kastner’s research was highlighted on the front page of the Gemini Observatory’s website and in the article titled Star Pair’s Dusty Disk Shines Light on Planet Formation on April 2, 2015.  
April 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Gosnell Hall 8 - 1250
February 2015
Celebrating 100 years of General Relativity, WebsEdge produced a video featuring RIT's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation
For more information about the theory of relativity developed by Albert Einstein please visit the 2015 International Year of Light website
February 2015
General Relativity turns 100; Astrophysicist Manuela Campanelli puts Einstein in context in AAAS talkRIT professor’s career shaped by Einstein’s theory
February 2015
RIT Faculty Sukanya Chakrabarti published a paper announcing the discovery of clustered Cepheid variables that mark the location of a dwarf galaxy she had predicted several years ago.  The discovery was widely covered by the media: by NBC News, Scientific American, Sky and Telescope ,BBC, and many other media outlets.  This discovery paves the way towards surveying the structure of our galaxy at low latitudes, and can critically shape our understanding of near-field cosmology.
January 2015
RIT AST Graduate Students, AST Faculty & Alumni presented at the American Astronomical Society’s January 2015 Conference
January 2015
Alexander Rasskazov, a graduate student in astrophysics (advisor D. Merritt), delivered a talk at the meeting “Black Holes in Dense Star Clusters” at the Aspen Center for Physics in Aspen, CO. The title of the talk was “Dynamical Evolution of a Supermassive Binary in a Rotating Galactic Nucleus”.
October 2014
David Principe RIT PhD graduate has won a prestegious FONDECYT fellowship in Chile for his research on young stars & their planet-forming disks. Details about the fellowship.
Summer 2014
David Principe RIT Graduate Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D.  Dissertation:Multiwavelength Studies of Young Stars and Their Circumstellar Disks
July 27,2014
RIT AST graduate student Valerie Rapson recently published an article in Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal (CAPjournal), a peer-reviewed astronomy outreach journal, titled “Reaching for the Stars in your Golden Years: The Importance of Outreach for Senior Citizens”.  The article is featured on the cover of the latest issue, and discusses the work she does in her spare time sharing astronomy with local senior citizens. You can find it here:  (full article on page 18).
July 10, 2014
Diving for pearls with the Hubble Space Telescope

Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology helped analyze data from the Hubble Space Telescope showing elliptical galaxies coalescing at the core of a dense galaxy cluster. The study is part of a program sponsored by the Hubble Space Telescope—an international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency—to look inside 23 massive clusters first catalogued in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

June 24, 2014
Inaugural RIT AST PhD recipient Rudy Montez is one of the invited speakers at the "15 Years of Science with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory" symposium, to be held Nov 18-21 in Boston, MA. Rudy has been invited to present results from the Chandra Survey of Planetary Nebulae -- a "multi-cycle" Chandra Large Program involving about two dozen astronomers worldwide, on which RIT AST faculty Joel Kastner and Rudy Montez are co-PIs.
June 21, 2014

A team led by Isabel Aleman (Leiden Observatory) that includes CIS/SoPA/AST Professor Joel Kastner and erstwhile AST PhD student (now Vanderbilt U postdoc) Rudy Montez has discovered the molecule OH+ in certain dusty shells ejected by dying, Sun-like stars (so-called "planetary nebulae"). The discovery, made with the Herschel Space Observatory, demonstrates how intense high-energy radiation from the newly exposed, white-hot stellar core at the center of a planetary nebula can alter the chemistry of the gas that the expiring star is injecting into interstellar space. The detection of OH+ is especially interesting, because the presence of this molecular ion is considered an important ingredient in chemical reactions leading to the production of water.

ESA Featured article:

April 2014
AST PhD graduate Grant Tremblay has been selected for one of the 12 Einstein Fellowships awarded in 2014. These are highly prestigious and very competitive fellowships. Grant has been pursuing his research and continuing his collaborations with his advisors  Christopher O'Dea and Stefi Baum at the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, Germany, where he holds an ESO Fellowship.
Grant will take his Fellowship (which provides funding for 3 years) at Yale University working on the project "Star Formation amid Kinetic Black Hole Feedback - The unified power of Chandra and ALMA" 
The list of 2014 Einstein Fellows is available here:
April 28,2014
Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: David Principe
Monday, April 28, 2014 at 3:00pm Golisano Hall, 70-1400
RIT Graduate Education Week April 14th - 18th, 2014 
The latest Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards competition, which occurred at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, earlier this month, was a record-setting event. Nearly 450 student poster authors entered the competition, of which two-thirds were undergraduates, and there were approximately 250 judges. Two RIT students were honored for their posters. Valerie Rapson won an honorable mention and Kevin Cooke won top honors. 
Graduate Student Chambliss Medal Winner: Kevin Cooke
Honorable Mention Winner: Valerie Rapson
January 27, 2014
Professor David Merritt was named this year’s Boris Garfinkel Lecturer at Yale University and recently presented a set of lectures on astrophysics.
January 8, 2014
Valerie Rapson teaches astronomy in summer classes at the University of Rochester. She conducts research on star and planet formation, and hopes to become an assistant professor or work for NASA in education and outreach.
December 16, 2013
2013-14 NYSG/AST Graduate Student Fellowships awarded to Dennis Bowen, Ian Ruchlin and Dmitry Vorobiev
The Fellowship is partly funded by a grant from the New York Space Grant Consortium, administered by Cornell University. 
December 12, 2013
Manuela Campanelli among leading scientists at event
Rochester Institute of Technology was represented at a symposium celebrating 50 years of relativistic astrophysics and research exploring quasars, black holes, exploding stars and colliding galaxies using Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.  Manuela Campanelli, director of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, spoke at the 27th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics, held at the University of Texas at Dallas Dec. 8–13. She joined other leading scientists in the field, including Noble prizewinners Joseph Taylor, from Princeton University, and Steven Weinberg, from the University of Texas at Austin.
November 20, 2013
Valerie Rapson is also elected president of Astronomy Section of Rochester Academy of Science
Rochester Institute of Technology graduate student Valerie Rapson was invited to join the American Astronomical Society Astronomy Ambassador program.
The Astronomy Ambassadors program cultivates a select group of early career astronomers like Rapson, providing them with professional development, mentoring and outreach training. The society looks to its ambassadors to promote a broad interest in astronomy to the public and inspire young people to pursue science and engineering careers
November 21, 2013
Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation simulates gravitational waves
Manuela Campanelli and Carlos Lousto—fellows of the American Physical Society and founding members of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation—and Yosef Zlochower are known for one of the first simulations to merge two black holes on a supercomputer. Their method solved the 10 interrelated equations for strong field gravity that comprise Albert Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity, connecting matter, space and time.
September 26, 2013
Princeton University Press publishes 
Dr. David Merritt’s text Dynamics and Evolution of Galactic Nuclei for researchers and students
Archive News Items

March 18, 2013: RIT Astrophysics Students Explore the Solar System at the Harley School
Feb. 15, 2013: RIT scientists comment on meteor explosion
Jan. 9, 2013: NASA awards RIT $1.1 million to develop infrared detectors for space missions
Dec 10, 2012: Supermassive Black Hole Powers 'Beautiful' Jets in 'Hercules A' Galaxy
Nov 12, 2012: AST Student Wins Time with Two NASA Observatories
Oct 10, 2012: X-ray Imaging Survey of Dying Stars is `Uncharted Territory'
Sept 17, 2012: CCRG and NTID collaborate on astrophysics inspired dance piece
July 26, 2012: RIT Leads Development of Next-generation Infrared Detectors
July 3, 2012: A Young Star Flaunts its X-ray Spots in McNeil's Nebula
Nov 21, 2011: First grads get feet wet as scientists
Nov 10, 2011: Student wins prestigious NASA fellowship; spends fall at Goddard Space Flight Center
Nov 2, 2011: Mysterious Absorption Lines Could Illuminate 90-year Puzzle
Sept 2011: RIT's New "Star" Researcher
Sept 7, 2011: Carving out a science career one post-doctoral fellowship at a time
May 20, 2011: First Two AST PhD's "hooded"
Apr 26, 2011: RIT Astrophysicist Wins Prestigious Fellowship
Nov 29, 2010: First PhD in Astrophysical Sciences & Technology wins award
Nov 17, 2010: Pushing Black-Hole Mergers to the Extreme
    (see also 'David and Goliath' Black Hole Clashes Analyzed)
Nov 15, 2010: Scientists Use Light Signatures to Track Merging Supermassive Black Holes
    (see also Black Holes Merge With a Flash of Light)
Sep 15, 2010: RIT astronomers discover cannibal star
July 26, 2010: AST students win best presentation awards at 2010 Graduate Research Symposium
July 22, 2010: RIT professor develops planet-hunting technology for NASA
May 25, 2010: Hubble Research Reveals "Wandering" Black Hole
May 1, 2010: New Wave Astronomy YouTube video
Jan 27, 2010: A Massive Star is Born: RIT astronomer peers into stellar nursery
Dec 8, 2009: RIT Astronomer Mines Spitzer Space Telescope Data for Massive Starbursts
Dec 3, 2009: RIT Professor Recognized by the American Physical Society
Oct 19, 2009: RIT Scientists Use Supercomputers to 'See' Black Holes
Oct 8, 2009: Youtube Video of RIDL on The History Channel (part 2) (part 3) (part 4)
Aug 27, 2009: RIDL Student Kim Kolb Awarded Prestigious BAE Fellowship
Aug 20, 2009: RIT Contributes to Research Probing Gravitational Echoes after the Big Bang