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New Mexico State University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Astronomy
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We are excited and pleased to welcome two new faculty members to the Department of Astronomy in Fall 2015. Dr. Moire Prescott studies distant gas clouds and their connection to the formation of galaxies, and Dr. Kristian Finlator works with numerical simulations of gas around galaxies.


On the cusp of his retirement, Bernie McNamara, astronomy professor at New Mexico State University for 40 years, has won the top prize in this year's Joan and Arnold Seidel Griffith Observer Science Writing Contest. It is the oldest and most prestigious writing contest in astronomy.

McNamara won first prize in the contest, which comes with a $1,000 award. His article, Tsien Hsue-shen and China's First Satellite: A Collision between Politics and Technology, will be published in the Griffith Observer in August. The contest is open to scientists, writers and members of the public to encourage writing about astronomy, astrophysics, and space science for the average reader.

As a longtime professor in the College of Arts and Sciences who once shared an office with Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, McNamara has numerous scholarly publications to his credit. However, the Griffith Observer contest is about writing for a broader audience.


Our hats go off to our six astronomy graduate students (shown below) who participated in the NMSU College of Arts & Sciences Three-Minute Thesis Competition on April 5, 2014. Students had three minutes each to present a thesis project (on one slide) and make the case in as compelling a fashion as possible, in an event designed to encourage graduate students to polish their communication skills and engage an audience.

Our students did us all proud! Graduate research fellow Kyle Uckert (third from left) won first place in the compeition with his solar system presentation, while Kyle Degrave (second from right) scored a third place win for his talk on helioseismology. Just imagine what they'll be able to cover in 45 minutes for a full PhD thesis presentation ...

Congratulations to graduate students Sean Markert, winner of the 2014 Pegasus Award for excellence in teaching, and to Kyle Degrave, who was recently awarded the 2014 Zia Award for excellence in research. Joining them are the 2013 winner of the Murrell Award for outstanding research or professional development, Maria Patterson, and Kenza Arraki, winner of the 2013 Rappaport Award for outstanding public service.