This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
Dr. Stella Offner is awarded an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship to carry out a program of research and education at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Offner will: (1) perform simulated observations of adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) hydrodynamic self-gravitating turbulent simulations and compare these with the molecular-line information of observed star-forming regions to formulate a three-dimensional understanding of large-scale molecular cloud properties and structure; (2) study observed protostellar properties by producing emergent spectral energy distributions of high-resolution AMR simulations in order to examine disk morphology, dust composition and gas temperatures; and (3) investigate how protostellar multiplicity depends upon local physical and chemical conditions by performing AMR multi-group radiative transfer simulations of turbulent clumps.
Dr. Offner will also conduct a program of science education and outreach to encourage and excite young children, particularly girls and minorities, in physics and astronomy. Dr. Offner will participate in the Science Club for Girls and develop additional lessons involving simple, interactive science experiments. Building on the successful K-12 education program Project ASTRO, she will create additional physics-oriented lessons (a.k.a. Project Physics) to highlight scientific principles in daily life. She will also encourage a stronger community of women in astrophysics by organizing lunches with visiting female scientists and social gatherings for undergraduates though senior faculty.