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University’s First ARCC Scholars to Graduate

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 15, 2012 – During their tenures as an Arecibo Remote Command Center Scholar, students Frank Ceballos, Alejandro Garcia, Rossina B. Miller, Louis P. Dartez, and Jesus Rivera have taken part in world-class research projects and personally controlled some of the most advanced radio telescopes in the world.

“It’s been wonderful,” Alejandro Garcia said about his time in the physics program. “It has been totally different than what I thought college would be. I got to interact with scientists from around the world. This was one of the best decisions in my life.” Garcia will begin a master’s degree in physics this fall at UTB and TSC.

University’s First ARCC Scholars to GraduateGarcia, Frank Ceballos, Jesus Rivera, and Rossina Miller will graduate at Spring Commencement at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 19 on the Cardenas South Lawn with their bachelor of science degrees in physics.

“The ARCC Program is very unique and has given me many opportunities to explore different areas of research, go to major observatories, observe with those same facilities, and attend national astronomy conferences to present my work,” said ARCC Scholar Rossina Miller, 23, and a Brownsville native.

After graduation, Miller, who graduated from the Science Academy of South Texas, will relocate to West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia where she has been accepted into its physics and astronomy doctoral program.

Louis Dartez will graduate in December with a double major in physics and computer science. He was in the first class of the Math and Science Academy at UTB and TSC.

“Learning how to apply what I know in the field of physics in real world scenarios is one of the many things that I can attribute to my years as part of the ARCC team,” said senior physics and computer science major Louis P. Dartez. “Through ARCC, I’ve been given the opportunity to work on important and ground-breaking research as a member of a team of world-renowned scientists.”

These five students have worked closely with a team comprised of faculty and students at the Arecibo Remote Command Center room located in the Science Engineering and Technology Building Room 1.124.

Their graduation will make the university one of the top 10 academic programs nationally producing Hispanic physicists.

The program was developed at the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy by Associate Professor of Physics Frederick A. Jenet and a team of his fellow researchers and educators.

“The interaction with the students and mentorship is a close one; all the faculty of ARCC participates in it,” Jenet said. “I personally work with the students in this graduating class on a day-to-day basis either for class related or research related business.”

The program is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation received by Jenet and his team. Since their freshman year, this first generation of ARCC Scholars has worked hand-in-hand with Jenet and fellow scientists to perform research at the ARCC.

In order to participate in the ARCC Scholars Program, students must take a full load of classes (15 credit hours or more) with an emphasis in physics, and they must maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to remain in good standing with the program.

For the first two years, all ARCC Scholars must participate in radio pulsar surveys that involves going through massive amounts of data from throughout the galaxy gathered by the Arecibo and Green Bank radio telescopes. In their third year, they must be working on their own research project supervised by one of the department faculty professors; at the same time, they graduate to “Team Leader” positions and mentor junior students. By their fourth year, they continue as team leaders and must submit a thesis of their research work to the department.

The five first-generation scholars were honored at a luncheon hosted by the Friends of ARCC, a group of community members working to increase awareness of the ARCC program, at noon on Friday, May 11 at the Education and Business Complex Salon Cassia.

Watching the students receive plaques of recognition at the luncheon was Dr. Robert Kerr, Director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Kerr was the special guest of the university’s ARCC at a public lecture held before the luncheon. Kerr has degrees from Ohio University and the University of Michigan and is a former professor at Boston University. His research interest is in upper atmospheric physics.

Kerr entertained university faculty members, staff and students and students from the city’s schools with the observatory’s accomplishments and importance to atmospheric science, planetary science and astronomy during his lecture, “The Scientific Impact of World’s Largest Telescope,” earlier in the day at The Arts Center. 

For more information on the Arecibo Remote Command Center Scholars Program, visit http://arcc.phys.utb.edu/scholars/.

For more information on the Arecibo Remote Command Center, visit http://arcc.phys.utb.edu/ARCC_v2/Welcome.html.




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