Two Mt. San Jacinto College students were recently chosen to work on a Hubble Scope Project designed to study remote galaxies.
Students Silvia Sanchez, 21, of Lake Elsinore and Sayed Thurab, 30, of Murrieta were chosen by Hubble Scope Team Members from UC Riverside in March. The students will work with instructors, scientists, and students from Riverside Community College District’s Moreno Valley College, UC Riverside and MSJC.
The students will start the project in mid-April and will use a program called Python, which is used as an interface between the user and the Hubble Scope Pictures. They will learn to analyze and summarize data used to describe the galaxies. The project will conclude in July and the results will be summarized and published in The Astronomic Journal.
"This is an amazing opportunity for Silvia and Sayed to build relationships with UCR and it will help them stand out when applying to four-year institutions. This project is multi-disciplinary and will provide them great exposure and experience in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) research," said Dr. Crystal Anthony, S.T.E.M. Instructional Support Activities Coordinator at MSJC.
Anthony credited Dr. Tofigh Heidarzadeh, astronomy instructor at MSJC, for helping the students get into the project. She said the two students will attend Heidarzadeh’s astronomy class at MSJC as part of this project.
Sanchez, who hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley in the fall, said she plans on majoring in electrical engineering. She said this project will enhance her knowledge for her major.
Thurab, who is also eyeing UC Berkeley for degrees in computer science and electrical engineering, echoed Sanchez’s sense of excitement and honor at being selected.
"I’ve always had dreams to work at NASA or SpaceX," he said. "I think this will help me to get in the door."
The research team from the UCR College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences-Physics and Astronomy Department received the grant from NASA to provide community college students the opportunity to contribute to the project, Anthony said. According to the grant information, the intent is to help students, especially minorities from underserved institutions, transition into S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at the University of California system.