UC San Diego

water in an exoplanet atmosphere

PHOTO (above): Figure from a recent paper by  UCSD Cool Star Lab alumna Aishwarya Iyer, currently a Master’s student at CSU Northridge and intern at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that was featured in a  NASA Press Release. Her work concludes that most hot Jupiter atmospheres likely contain water vapor, even when these spectral features look weak, since hazes and clouds (shown) can obscure evidence of water in the atmosphere. Aisha and her team performed a comprehensive analysis of 19 Hot Jupiter transmission spectra to show that the bulk of water vapor lies below the cloud layers. 

Astronomy Research at UCSD with the STARS Program

Work in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS), an Organized Research Unit on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). CASS researchers cover the entire wavelength spectrum from radio to gamma-rays, from the earliest visible times in the Universe, to nearby stellar systems, to the Solar system. CASS contains theoreticians, instrument builders, observers, modelers, and simulation experts. Interests range from the Cosmic Microwave Background, formation of the earliest stars and galaxies, the chemical composition of the filamentary structures in the early Universe, galactic and stellar evolution, accretion onto compact objects be they supermassive or stellar mass black holes or neutron stars with a range of magnetic fields. Solar system interests include the testing of General Relativity with lunar laser ranging, Solar mass ejections and space weather, and the composition of comets and asteroids.

CAMPARE student with mentor
CAMPARE student Uriel Rodea with mentor Prof. Karin Sandstrom.

Possible research topics for CAMPARE students in CASS this year include:

Low-mass stars and brown dwarfs: Prof. Adam Burgasser's research group  studies the properties of the lowest mass stars and coldest brown dwarfs. They use observational techniques to infer the physical properties of these objects, search for and characterize multiple systems, and measure population statistics using many different tools including spectroscopy, imaging, radio interferometry, and synoptic monitoring. 

Star and planet formation:  Prof. Quinn Konopacky uses high resolution techniques on large, ground-based telescopes to study star and planet formation and evolution.  She observes these systems with adaptive optics -fed instruments on telescopes like the  W.M. Keck Telescopes and the Gemini Telescopes in the near-infrared to perform detailed studies of young stars, brown dwarfs, and directly imaged planets. 

Formation of galaxies and supermassive black holes: Prof. Shelley Wright studies  how galaxies and supermassive black holes form and evolve over cosmic time. She also works on many other projects, including the imaging of gravitationally-lensed distant galaxies, exploration of nearby galaxies, the black hole-bulge (or M-sigma) relationship, evolved stars, and SETI. Prof. Wright is also engaged in development for a first light instrument, IRIS, for the Thirty Meter Telescope; a spectrograph for a Robotic-AO system; and near-infrared and optical SETI instrumentation.

Program Details

What is it?

CAMPARE students will be supported by the University of California, San Diego Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS) program, an eight week summer research academy for community college students, undergraduate students, recent college graduates, and masters students. STARS offers student participants a rigorous research opportunity with esteemed UC San Diego faculty, informative transfer and graduate school preparation workshops, and educational, cultural, and social activities in sunny San Diego.

Selected students will receive a $4000 stipend for the full 8 weeks, housing on the UCSD campus for the duration of the program, and support for travel from home or campus to UCSD.

Who should apply?

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the beginning of the program. They must be enrolled in one of the CAMPARE participating institutions at the time of their application. Participants who will graduate from their 4-year institution in the spring prior to the start of the summer internship are still eligible for the UCSD-STARS program. Community college students in the process of transferring to a 4-year institution are eligible to apply.

All applicants must have completed a minimum of one full year of college-level physics by the start of the program. 

When and How to Apply

Applications are due February 1, 2022. To apply to the program, follow the Application Instructions.

In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference using the link on the application instructions page. Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. It is your responsibility to confirm that these letters have been sent and failure to obtain these two letters will render your application incomplete and lead to its rejection without review.

Successful students will be notified in March. The research program runs Sunday, June 19 through Friday, August 12, 2022 (8 weeks). Participants must be available during the entire 8-week period of the program.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants DUE-1741863, AST-1636646, and AST-1836019.