Junior Jane Bright was awarded first prize in the best poster category at the American Physical Society's Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, held from January 13 to 15, at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“It was very empowering to attend an event that wants to encourage women in physics and to really see that community,” said Bright. “I was able to communicate why my project was important, as well as where it could lead in the future, and was able to show my love and enthusiasm for the subject while doing it.”
Bright's poster, titled “Determining Complex Motion Changes in Active Galaxy Jets,” showcased summer research that Bright conducted at Denison, studying the relativistic motion of jets emitted from the centers of distant active galaxies. Using data from the MOJAVE program, which studies the motions of hundreds of the jets, Bright developed statistical techniques and simulations to see if there was strong evidence for more complicated jet motions, such as jet acceleration. She found many cases where there were changes in motion that could not be explained by simple acceleration.
“I was so impressed by her careful work, and I think she has clearly demonstrated a sound technique for detecting these unusual changes in motion,” said Bright's advisor Daniel Homan, professor of physics, astronomy and computational science at Denison. “In the future, hopefully we will be able to follow up this work and find out what is causing the changes in motion she detected.”
The conference was a three-day regional event with the goal of helping undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice and ideas.