AUI and NRAO Announce 2022 NAC Bridge Scholarship Recipients

This news article was originally published on NRAO.edu on July 5, 2022.

Six National Astronomy Consortium (NAC) program alumni have accepted offers to outstanding graduate schools around the country, and have been awarded the NAC Bridge Scholarship to support them in the transition to graduate school.

AUI and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have announced the recipients of the 2022 AUI Board of Trustees NAC Bridge Scholarship Award. Now in its second year, the scholarship recognizes the academic accomplishments of National Astronomy Consortium (NAC) alums and assists them in the transition from undergraduate to graduate programs. 

Amidst the excitement of beginning graduate school and the financial considerations of tuition, there can be additional financial burdens related to moving to a new location and establishing a new residence. The AUI Board of Trustees established the new NAC scholarship award in 2021 to help NAC alums manage these expenses during the transition to the next phase of their academic careers. 

This year, six NAC alums have accepted offers from outstanding graduate programs around the country. Each will receive a $5,000 AUI Board of Trustees NAC Bridge Scholarship Award, with AUI and NRAO’s congratulations and best wishes for a smooth start to an exciting new chapter of their lives.

2022 Recipients of the NAC Bridge Scholarship Award

  • Azia Robinson, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Physics
  • Khalid Mohamed, Boston University, Astronomy
  • Sarra Hayoune, Rutgers University, Physics
  • Camilo Vazquez, George Mason University, Physics and Astronomy
  • Wesley Red, University of Illinois at Chicago, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Kiana Whitfield, University of Maryland at College Park, Astronomy

NAC is a competitive program offering summer astronomy research internships to undergraduates and professional development programming and research opportunities throughout the academic careers of NAC alumni. NAC’s goal is to increase the number of students, often underserved by the traditional academic pipeline, in STEM and STEM careers, by creating a diverse network of support for their academic and professional careers from an early stage.

A key component of the NAC program has been the long-term sustained engagement of alums and, perhaps most importantly, the peer and near-peer support that NAC alums offer to each other. NRAO and AUI appreciate the commitment that NAC alums have to each other and to their own professional journeys, and are proud of their individual and collective accomplishments.

About NAC

National Astronomy Consortium (NAC) is a program of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under a cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. NAC is a summer research experience program for undergraduate students in the United States who have been underserved by the traditional academic pipeline. The program aims to increase the number of students in STEM fields by helping them to build networks of support for success early in their academic careers and beyond.

NRAO Director Tony Beasley Appointed to New Five-Year Term

 

Dr. Tony Beasley, Director of the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), has been appointed to a new five-year term. The Board of Trustees for AUI— which operates NRAO under a cooperative agreement— and the NRAO Director Review Committee conducted a thorough review of Beasley’s leadership and performance earlier this year, and have appointed the Director to the new term through May 2027.

 

“Tony is an outstanding leader and stalwart champion for NRAO, the field of radio astronomy, the beauty of science, and the critical role of big facilities in the R&D ecosystem,” said Adam Cohen, President and CEO of AUI, which operates NRAO under a cooperative agreement. “He continues to support very innovative education and outreach programs to help build the workforce of the future, as well as programs and activities to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces.” 

 

Over the course of more than two decades, Beasley’s leadership has shaped the present and future of NRAO’s leading-edge radio astronomy facilities, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and Very Large Array (VLA). More recently, he has collaborated on efforts to encourage cooperation between commercial spectrum users and research facilities and has created partnerships to explore the use of Green Bank Observatory’s radar systems in planetary science and defense applications. 

 

Beasley recently has generated significant support for the future of NRAO’s facilities, reaching major milestones in 2021. The observatory’s proposed next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) received high priority for new ground-based observatories in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020). Late last year, NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory (CDL) received approval and funding through the ambitious ALMA2030 Development Plan to upgrade its Band 6 receivers, which are ALMA’s most productive receivers. 

 

An ardent supporter of diversity, equity, and inclusion in astronomy and astrophysics, Beasley has elevated the efforts of NRAO’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Broader Impacts, and community development initiatives, including the National Astronomy Consortium (NAC), RADIAL, National and International Non-traditional Exchange (NINE), Research Experiences for Undergraduate students (REU), and most recently, grants for women in engineering fellowships and the development of a next generation Learning Center (ngLC). 

 

“Being a part of NRAO for more than 20 years has given me the opportunity to observe, contribute to, and lead growth and change in astronomy that positively impacts our facilities and allows us to collaborate with other like-minded institutions,” said Beasley. “I am proud of the work our teams have accomplished in research, engineering, outreach, and equity, and look forward to serving the NRAO community for another five years.”

 

Beasley, who holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics from the University of Sydney, was first appointed as NRAO Director in February 2012, after previously serving the observatory and the radio astronomy community in multiple capacities. He joined NRAO as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1991 and served as Deputy Assistant Director in 1997 and Assistant Director from 1998 to 2000. He briefly left NRAO that year to become Project Manager for the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA). In 2004, he returned to NRAO as Assistant Director, as well as Project Manager for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. From 2008 to 2012, Beasley served as the Chief Operating Officer and Project Manager of NSF’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). In addition to his role as NRAO Director, Beasley presently serves as the AUI Vice President for Radio Astronomy Operations. 

 

In January 2022, Beasley was honored as a Lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of radio astronomy. 

 

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