This year I worked on two projects that were similar. In the first semester, I was trying to find exoplanets by detecting periodic variations of transiting binary star systems. Unfortunately, I was able to get follow through the procedure quickly enough to arrange observations before the targets moved out of the night sky. I hope to continue this project sometime later this year.
For the second semester, I was able to pick up a project working with CoRoT to confirm exoplanet detections. I am currently still in the process of analyzing the observations. I wasn't able to completely finish the project due to another task that required my work. With the efforts being made to stop the construction of TMT, I decided to start a petition in support of the telescope. I never imagined that it would receive so much attention! I spent most of the last month of the quarter corresponding with people, answering interviews, keeping up with the media coverage, etc. My family and I flew to Oahu so that I could testify in support of TMT at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. My involvement also led me to be very well introduced to the astronomy community and I was very happy to have the opportunity to tour CFH, meet astronomers to talk story with them, and tour the Keck Telescopes. This summer, I will be spending two month in an internship with Dr. Asantha Cooray at UC Irvine.
I talked a bit with Savannah about my project this year because she expressed an interest in continuing a project in the astronomy field. The biggest challenge I see is finding the means of receiving the background information necessary to conduct an independent astronomy project. Hopefully, HPA students will have the opportunity to do so or will be able to attend summer camps/classes that enable them to conduct their own astronomy project.