2016-17 Highlights

Osterbrock Highlights in 2016-2017

Leadership projects: Viraj Pandya shadowed the PI of a major NASA satellite proposal, participated in the planning discussions, and crafted the proposal’s diversity strategy. Sara Crandall represented graduate student concerns in the proposed redesign of the campus Family Student Housing and Child Care Center. It was OLP experience that gave her the courage to step into this leading role, she says. Emily Cunningham launched a program of in-class observers to provide Astronomy faculty with feedback on graduate teaching, and Eric Gentry explored ways to improve Astronomy graduate advising. OLP Fellows also led plans to revamp the program to expand participation to all graduate Astronomy students and launched the new minigrants program, which got started this fall.

Mentoring: Mentor Steve Mandel, of Mandel Communications, offered his annual workshop on presentation skills. Mandel is a world leader in executive coaching and communication skills, and his workshops encourage participants to learn in real time. Attendees give these workshops five stars. Osterbrock Mentor Genevieve Graves (former UCSC Astronomy PhD) hosted regular lunches and dinners to share her experiences as co-founder of a startup company. She also led a discussion group on women’s leadership issues. Mentor Bob Williams planned our week-long visit to Space Telescope Science Institute (see below) and arranged numerous interviews with scientific and political leaders in the Baltimore region.

Activities: Three grads visited the California Council on Science and Technology in Sacramento, met the CCST Science Fellows, who are recent PhDs taking a year off to serve in government, and learned about the Fellows roles in state government. They sat in on CCST’s semi-annual meeting and got a first-hand glimpse of CCST’s efforts to inject scientific knowledge into the California legislative process.

Robert Kirshner, head of science programs at the Moore Foundation and eminent astronomer, inaugurated the annual Osterbrock Distinguished Leadership Lecture on March 8 with a talk on “Science in a Time of Accelerating Turbulence”.

A week-long visit to the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute by four grads in June was arranged by Osterbrock Mentor and former STScI Director Robert Williams. OLP students sat in on the HST TAC panels, attended TAC dinners, and discussed the TAC process with the STScI Director and other institute administrators. They met with Maggie McIntosh, chair of the Appropriations Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates, and heard Catherine Cesarsky personally relate her remarkable career as head of ESO and other science agencies in France and Europe. Interviews with other notables included staff members of local politicians, Baltimore academic administrators, and program leaders at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC. A visit with UCSC alum and former Congressional Fellow Mark Mozena rounded out a fascinating week.

These and similar activities will be regular features of the program in coming years. New suggestions for program activities are welcome.