Over the past summer, the West Virginia University Department of Physics and Astronomy welcomed undergraduate students from all over the country to live on campus and work closely with a selected research mentor, learning all about astrophysics, astronomy, and instrumentation from the experts. The Astrophysics Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program that offers the opportunity for undergraduate students to explore all facets of research while gaining insights into diverse training topics.
One Astrophysics REU student has taken his experience to a new level back at his home institution for his final year in college.
Kyle McGregor (right), a senior at Wesleyan University, has found his passion in astronomy outreach work and research into the mysterious Fast Radio Bursts.
Well into the fall semester, Kyle has lead many outreach events at Wesleyan Astronomy Department’s Space Nights at the Van Vleck Observatory, giving talks on pulsar timing arrays that are used to detect gravitational wave signals, NANOGrav 15-year data release results, and opportunities for high-school and undergraduate students to search for pulsars through the Pulsar Science Collaboratory. Kyle explains “While not having worked with NANOGrav directly, I really enjoyed learning about the work the collaboration does at the weekly pulsar group meetings over the summer and was really eager to share what I had learned about pulsars and gravitational waves with people at Wesleyan.”
Using his scientific background, he is able to reach large audiences ranging from Wesleyan students, faculty and staff to community residents. “We run these outreach observing nights because it's important to our department to engage with the community as much as we can through our science, which the Van Vleck Observatory has striven to do for more than a century,” Kyle states.
During his summer at West Virginia University, he took on the challenge of leading a show at the WVU Planetarium and Observatory, further adding to his outreach portfolio. In his REU research, he focused on modeling populations of repeating Fast Radio Bursts with Professor Duncan Lorimer (above). From this research, Kyle has submitted a first-authored publication to the American Astrophysical Society (AAS) meeting in New Orleans.
I'd also really like to continue doing astronomy outreach in the years to come, as I really love making this science fun and accessible for everyone. Kyle McGregor
The REU research experience working directly with Lorimer and other researchers here at WVU has been a building block into the full experience of finding Kyle’s talent and passion for astronomy and science outreach. Kyle says, “I'd really love to continue working with radio transients and astrophysical populations as I look toward graduate school and beyond. I'd also really like to continue doing astronomy outreach in the years to come, as I really love making this science fun and accessible for everyone.”
Holly Legleiter/Public Relations Coordinator
West Virginia University