Astronomy students and faculty present at national astronomy conference

Students and faculty presented at the four-day, 243rd American Astronomical Society meeting in New Orleans.

Three Elon undergraduates and three Elon faculty recently attended the 243rd American Astronomical Society meeting, evidence of Elon’s budding astrophysics and astronomy program.

The annual American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting attracts over 3,000 students, post-docs and faculty to discuss the latest astronomy research and teaching pedagogy. In addition, the event features world-renowned plenary speakers, job opportunities, space exhibits and graduate school representatives.

Sam DiRenzo, senior astronomy major, presenting her Chambliss qualifying iPoster.

The conference featured innovative iPosters that allow students to expand upon traditional research posters by including electronic content like hyperlinks, high-resolution images and videos. Ths year two students presented iPosters, which undergo a peer review process before acceptance.

Sam DiRenzo ’24, an astronomy major and Glen Raven Scholar, showcased her research on using multi-wavelength observations to find active intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in dwarf galaxies. DiRenzo qualified for the prestigious Chambliss Competition, which only included 15% of participants. Jordan Wels, senior physics major and Lumen Scholar, presented his research about incorporating galaxy scaling relations into simulations of IMBHs, which attracted the attention of leading researchers.

Professor of Astrophysics Tony Crider spoke during a special session dedicated to new and emerging technologies for astronomy education. Crider presented on integrating augmented and mixed reality into undergraduate astronomy labs. He then joined other speakers in the session for a panel discussion focusing on artificial intelligence in the college classroom.

Associate Professor of Astrophysics Chris Richardson gave a research presentation on dwarf galaxies enabled by the Transatlantic Partnership Grant through the FACE Foundation. Professor Claudine Moreau mentored astronomy major Morgan Micharski ’26 as they learned more about merging their interests in astronomy and chemistry.