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M. W. Castelaz (East Tenn. St. Univ.)
The goal of this CAREER Project was to fully integrate research and education by establishing a research program involving spectroscopy and photometry of long period variable stars and establishing an undergraduate education program to teach methodology in research using the variable star research program. The research component of this project established a program of frequent spectroscopic observations of Mira variables. Spectra have been taken of twenty Mira stars anywhere from two to six different phases in their light curves using a low resolution spectrograph on the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy 0.9-m telescope, as well as on the Appalachian State University Dark Sky Observatory 0.45-m telescope. The education component consisted of an observational astronomy course and research opportunities for students at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) using the available astronomical research facilities. Five independent study students supported through several NSF REU grants conducted research during the summer months. Although the CAREER award was completed in 1998, the research continues with model spectra being computed as a first approximation using LTE stellar atmosphere code. The effective temperatures, gravities, and pressures of Mira star atmospheres as a function of time are being computed. Students continue to remain involved. Also, Observational Astronomy, and another new course, Stellar Astrophysics, are being submitted to the ETSU Curriculum Committee as permanent courses in the ETSU Department of Physics beginning in the Fall 2000 semester. Results of the integration of research and education, as well as the results of the research will be presented. Support from the National Science Foundation CAREER Program Grant AST-9500756 is greatly appreciated.