Check out our extended video introduction here!
Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Fields have an equal access problem. Under-represented minorities -- in particular Black Americans, Latinx Americans and Native Americans -- are woefully under-represented in professional science fields. As astronomers and astrophysicists, we know the best science gets done when we maximize the number of talented minds we can put together for a problem, and we think everyone with a passion for science deserves the right to solve the mysteries of the Universe. This is the reason the UT Austin Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory has launched the TAURUS Scholars program, or the Texas Astronomy Undergraduate Research experience for Under-represented Students.
The TAURUS program is a full-time, 9-week summer research experience in astronomy for highly-motivated undergraduate students from underserved and traditionally marginalized groups. TAURUS Scholars come from all over the country to UT Austin to work one-on-one with professional astronomers on an individual and unique research project. By giving them a hands-on professional scientific research experience, our program prepares TAURUS Scholars to enter graduate school in top-rated astronomy and physics programs or to enter the STEM workforce after graduation.
It is important that TAURUS Scholars establish a home in our community in the UT Austin Astronomy Department and McDonald Observatory. Many of our students will not have had an opportunity to pursue research at their home colleges and universities, despite their excellent academic records, because research experiences in astronomy and astrophysics are rare overall, possibly non-existant at their college. We are committed to addressing structural and cultural marginalization (people of color, LGBTQIA, those with disabilities, women, intersectional groups) within academic research through discussion and building a strong sense of community via mutual respect as scientists, learners, and individuals. We are dedicated to helping TAURUS Scholars achieve their dreams in STEM related careers.
Students' research projects range from planets around other stars and stellar evolution, to galaxy formation and evolution. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers host bi-weekly seminars throughout the summer for TAURUS scholars to discuss topics related to astronomy careers, computer programming, research, scientific writing, and much more. TAURUS Scholars also take a trip to McDonald Observatory, a cutting-edge astronomical facility in West Texas, during the summer. For many of our students, this is their first trip to a professional observatory and their first time operating a professional telescope.
At the conclusion of the nine week research program, TAURUS Scholars present their work to the entire astronomy department at the annual TAURUS Symposium. With the approval of their research supervisor, scholars are then invited to participate in the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) the following January to present their work, meet other research students from other programs, and network with potential graduate programs and employers.
We rely on donors to keep our program going. While we do seek funding through national funding agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), not all costs related to the TAURUS program experience can be covered by those research-focused grants. TAURUS Scholars come to UT Austin from all over the country, and we pay for their travel expenses, their room and board on campus at UT for the nine weeks, and the expenses of taking them to McDonald Observatory and the meeting of the American Astronomical Society. In addition, their research supervisors in the department ensure they are paid a competitive stipend. Please explore our levels of support for more information on how you can make a difference to the TAURUS program!
If we reach our goal of $14610, we'll be able to cover all of the living and travel expenses for three of our five TAURUS Scholars in 2017!
Please visit our website at www.as.utexas.edu/taurus to learn more!
Pitch in $10 to get the TAURUS Scholars on their way. A small boost can still go a long way!
Help the TAURUS scholars with computer supplies. Contribute $50 to get them an external hard drive so they'll be able to take all their data and research with them on the go and when they leave.
A day at AAS! In the January following their summer research experience, TAURUS Scholars present their work at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Help TAURUS Scholars network with astronomy graduate programs and other students by covering a day's worth of their expenses at the meeting. With this level of donation, get a shout out on our twitter feed!
Scholar Housing for a Week - You can fund a TAURUS Scholar's housing on the campus of UT Austin for one week of their summer experience. Scholars live in the San Jacinto Residence Hall, which is centrally located on campus, and allows them to interact with other summer research students from other UT-based programs. At this level of donation get a personal thank you on our blog and a shoutout on twitter!
Trip to McDonald Observatory - Send one TAURUS Scholar on the trip of a lifetime to observe and operate the telescopes at McDonald Observatory, one of the top research centers for observational astronomy in the country. Scholars spend four nights at the helm of the telescopes, deciding what to observe that is in line with their research projects. McDonald Observatory is also one of the darkest sky locations in the continental US, giving Scholars one of the best views of the night sky they will remember forever. With this donation level receive an electronic picture of the TAURUS group at McDonald Observatory, a personal thank you on our blog, and a twitter shout out.
Scholar Housing for the full 9 weeks - You can fund a TAURUS Scholar's housing on the campus of UT Austin for their entire stay, 9 weeks of their summer experience. Scholars live in the San Jacinto Residence Hall, which is centrally located on campus, and allows them to interact with other summer research students from other UT-based programs. At this level receive a signed electronic picture of the TAURUS group at McDonald Observatory, a personal thank you on our blog, and a twitter shoutout!
All expenses - You can cover the full living and travel expenses of one of the 2017 TAURUS Scholars for the entire summer! Give them the gift of a great living and work experience, including the observing trip of a lifetime. At this level receive a signed electronic picture of the TAURUS group at McDonald Observatory, a personal thank you on our blog, special invitation to and mention in the end-of-summer TAURUS Symposium, and a twitter shoutout!