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Cameron University students undertake undergraduate research in space weather and observation astronomy

While pursuing baccalaureate degrees in the disciplines of chemistry, physics and engineering, three Cameron University students have also ventured into the realm of outer space by conducting undergraduate research projects that have them casting their critical thinking and analytical skills beyond the classroom. Under the mentorship of Dr. Susmita Hazra, Dalton Chase, Jennifer Lane and SheKayla Love are participating in research projects related to space weather and observational astronomy.

Chase, a physics major from Lawton who earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in engineering in May 2023, is utilizing data from SOHO, ACE and GOES satellites to understand how the sun varies across different solar cycles and the impact caused by the variability on space weather. This work will be helpful in building a framework for an empirical model for future solar activity prediction. Chase has presented his research at the National Council of Undergraduate Research and is assisting Hazra in publishing the results in a peer-reviewed journal.

“I learned and gained experience in professional settings,” Chase says of his research project. “I never knew the vast opportunities undergraduate research could provide me, and I am extremely grateful to Cameron and my research advisor Dr. Susmita Hazra for allowing me to have these experiences.”

Lane, a physics and engineering major from Fletcher, has been analyzing the light curve of exoplanets, which are planets in other solar systems. She is part of an exoplanet watch program via NASA’s partnership with the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network at the Center for Astrophysics/Harvard & Smithsonian and Las Cumbres Observatory, a network of 25 telescopes at seven sites around the world. She also has access to telescopes at NASA’s Propulsion Laboratory. Exoplanet research gives scientists crucial hints for determining whether and where life might exist elsewhere in our solar system, as well as teaching us about how exoplanets were formed and evolved.

Lane has been analyzing light curves on these planets to find distance, size, composition and mass. She has presented her research at Oklahoma Research Day and plans to present at the National Council of Undergraduate Research at California State University Long Beach in Spring 2024. She is also writing her results to publish in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Conducting undergraduate research has been helpful for me by making me get out of my comfort zone,” Lane says. “It has challenged my critical thinking skills as well as presentation skills. Doing research over a topic I found very interesting is an enjoyable experience and boosted my confidence.”

Love, a senior chemistry major from Lawton, has analyzed data from four robotic telescopes on variable stars, which are located millions of light years away. Starlight is the only data available from that distance, so analyzing those lights can provide information about distance, mass, size, and composition. This research is significant as it gives information about stars, their life cycle and perhaps about our universe.

She has also been working on another space weather project using ionosonde data from around the world. Ionosondes are like ultrasounds; they send signals to the sky, and the returning signal gives information about the electron composition and irregularities. These parameters vary with the activity of the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields. Understanding the ionosphere is extremely important for satellite communication, a technology that is omnipresent in daily life.

“One of my biggest academic accomplishments is publishing my research work in a peer-reviewed journal,” Love says, who has presented her research at more than 10 conferences and has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. “I am very thankful to Dr. Hazra, Cameron University and the Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering for giving me this opportunity.”


PR# 23-143

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