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Amgen Scholars: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty for the Amgen Scholars program.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor. For additional tips on identifying a mentor click here.

Please remember:

  • Students pursuing Amgen must be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or students with DACA status.
  • Students pursuing Amgen must complete the 10-week program from June 18 - August 23, 2024. Students must commit to these dates. No exceptions will be made.
  • Accepted students must live in provided Caltech housing.

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Project:  Searching for the Nearest Transiting Earth-like Expolanets
Disciplines:  Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science, Applied Math
Mentor:  Stanimir Metchev, Professor, (PMA),, Phone: +1-519-661-2111, ext. 88438
Mentor URL:  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE 1: This project is being offered by a Caltech alum and is open only to Caltech students. The project will be conducted at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.

NOTE 2: Western University hosts one of the largest astronomy research groups in Canada, with expertise from atmospheric meteors to exoplanets to active galactic nuclei. London, Ontario is within a 2-hour drive of Toronto, Detroit, or Niagara Falls, and within an hour drive to the beaches of Lake Huron or Lake Erie.

Most of the 5000+ known extrasolar planets have been discovered with the "transit" technique: the observer is in a lucky position to detect the small dimming of the host star when an orbiting planet periodically passes in front. NASA's Kepler spacecraft discovered most of these. However, Kepler observed a small portion of the sky, so most known exoplanets reside around distant and dim stars. These present a challenge for characterization, even with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Metchev's team seeks a student to participate in a new approach to discover and characterize the nearest Earth-like exoplanets.
Description:  Prof. Metchev's team at Western University is involved in the planning for a space telescope mission, POET, that will be in part dedicated to discovering rocky planets around M-type or cooler dwarf stars. In preparation for POET, Prof. Metchev's team is assembling a catalogue of the nearest M-type or cooler (L or T types) stars, analyzing their properties from TESS observations or with ground-based telescopes. Potential follow-up observations are also possible with an array of three 50 cm robotic telescopes. The student will use publicly available (AstroImageJ software or astropy library) or custom-developed software to analyze astronomical imaging or time series data, whether from TESS or from the three 50 cm telescopes. The student may also design and obtain ground-based observations using the Maxim DL and ACP astronomy imaging and control software.
Student Requirements:  The successful applicant will have strong computing skills, including knowledge of the Linux operating system and of a scripting/programming language (python, C). Basic astronomy knowledge, familiarity with astronomical images, telescope use, or knowledge of parallel computing or machine learning are all preferred, but not required.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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