Blinn students aim for the stars in partnership with Texas A&M

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From galaxies to gravity, constellations to comets, studying the vastness of the universe has mesmerized scientists for centuries.

This spring, Blinn College District students can explore their interest in astronomy while gaining invaluable undergraduate research experience through PHYS 2289: Academic Cooperative.

In partnership with Texas A&M University, the class will provide students the opportunity to conduct original astronomical research using the telescopes at the university’s Physics Observatory. Due to the independent research component and restricted access to A&M’s facility, class size is limited.

“This collaboration exposes Blinn students to the telescopes at Texas A&M’s observatory and provides scientific training not often available at the undergraduate level,” said physics professor Jim Freeman. “Students will develop their own projects and conduct original astronomical research that can lead to academic publications and conference presentations, an outcome that often is only pursued at the graduate level.”

PHYS 2289-301, CRN 26762, will be offered at the Blinn-Bryan Campus and is a two-credit-hour course. Telescope observation time will depend on weather and students will be responsible for coordinating with Texas A&M’s Physics Observatory to conduct their work. Ideally, students will have access to several clear nights during the semester in order to formulate their projects.

Freeman will consult with students to determine project categories, but possible topics include photometry or spectroscopy of variable stars, spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres, and asteroid astrometry, including the potential discovery of a previously unknown asteroid.

Blinn students are no strangers to pushing the boundaries of undergraduate research. Recently, chemistry and engineering students presented their work at the world’s largest chemistry conference and psychology students have detailed their findings at the Southwestern Psychological Association Conference.

“Blinn College is one of the few community colleges in the nation with a record of sending students to national research conferences,” said Freeman. “It is my hope that this course serves as a gateway for Blinn physics students to embark on innovative research and leave their mark on the scientific community.”

Registration for PHYS 2289 and Blinn’s other spring 2020 courses is now available. For enrollment or financial aid information, visit www.blinn.edu/admissions.

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