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229th AAS Meeting Event Descriptions


AAS Astronomy Ambassadors

Tuesday, 3 January | 8:30 am – 6:00 pm
Wednesday, 4 January 2017 | 12:45 pm – 5:30 pm
Fee: $0; Application Required
This fifth annual Astronomy Ambassador workshop is for early career astronomers (graduate students, post docs, young faculty) eager to put a new face on astronomy through active engagement in outreach to their communities. During the two days of active learning, you can build skills to help engage your audience in your presentations, gain insights into how people learn, and discover tested outreach resources. The workshop is free, but is limited to 30 participants by application only. Apply now.

Introduction to Software Carpentry Workshop

Tuesday, 3 January | 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
Fee: $50

Registration for this workshop has closed.
Computing is now an integral part of every aspect of astronomy and astrophysics, but most scientists are never taught how to build, use, validate, and share software. As a result, many spend hours or days doing things badly that could be done well in just a few minutes. The goal of the Software Carpentry Workshop is to change that. The tools presented at the workshop will enable astronomers to spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Furthermore, good quality, well tested code will make their science results easier to confirm, distribute, and update.

The Software Carpentry Workshop at the 229th AAS consists of short tutorials alternating with hands-on practical exercises and will cover the core software skills needed construct, use, verify, and share software in astronomy. It will be run by a set of certified instructors and a team of helpers.

The course is aimed at astronomers at all stages of their education and careers who wish to learn computational tools to increase the reproducibility and efficiency of their work. Participants should have some knowledge of programming (not necessarily Python) and have some familiarity with the shell command line (i.e., navigating directories on the shell command line). Specific knowledge of Python and Git are not required.

Participants will be required to bring laptops and to install software in advance of the workshop. A group list will be compiled approximately one month prior to the workshop to distribute software requirements and collaborative troubleshooting. Workshop participants are also encouraged to participate in the Hack Day to apply their new skills. More information on the Software Carpentry project can be found at

Using Python for Astronomical Data Analysis

Tuesday, 3 January | 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Fee: $35

Registration for this workshop has closed.
This workshop will cover the use of Python tools for analysis of JWST data, but with broad applicability to general Optical, IR, and UV data sets. The primary tools that will be covered are those available in the Astropy library and affiliated packages, many of which are developed specifically for JWST, but designed to be compatible with HST and other major mission data. The specific tools to be covered will be:
  • How to interact with conda and git
  • Physical units and quantities
  • Basics on accessing data files, both FITS and ascii tables
  • Coordinate utilities
  • Modeling and Fitting
  • Interactive visualization and analysis tools, including Glue, imexam, specviz, and photometric tools

There will be time spent on hands-on exercises. Instructions on installing the necessary software will be provided before the workshop and help will be available at the workshop for those that experience problems with installations.The prerequisite is a familiarity with astronomical data analysis. Basic Python experience is highly recommended to be able to participate in the exercises. Those without Python experience will still get a lot of useful information about the capabilities for data analysis in Python. Experience with Python scientific libraries, particularly numpy and matplotlib, is helpful but not required.

The Performing Art of Science Presentation

Tuesday, 3 January | 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fee: $75
Scientists are often so deep into their research they might forget to translate their content when speaking to audiences outside of their areas. This workshop offers specific skills from the theater to become a more engaging and memorable speaker, whether at a professional conference, public event, job talk, or in the classroom. With a focus on clarifying the message, topics also include connection to audience; body language, gesture, and movement; purpose and passion; structure and timing; PowerPoint use; managing stage fright; voice, speech, and articulation; and how to include stories and metaphors to illuminate complex or important ideas. The goal is to become more clear, compelling, and memorable, getting your research to come to life and your ideas to stick.

Nancy Houfek brings over 35 years of working with performers and public speakers to her consulting and coaching. A stage director, award-winning actor, and nationally recognized theater educator, Nancy presents workshops combining theater, storytelling, and leadership techniques for corporations, think tanks, universities, and professional organizations throughout the US and Canada.

Impacting Broader Audiences With Your Research

Tuesday, 3 January | 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Fee: $35
Do you want to have an impact on people’s knowledge beyond the walls of the scientific research community? Do you want to communicate with broader audiences in ways that are educational and memorable? This workshop is for scientists who are interested in increasing the impacts of their science knowledge and expertise by interacting with people online, or in other venues outside of your normal work environment. Maybe you are interested in hosting webinars, running a short online course for the public, or using Facebook, Twitter, or other social media to communicate science? Perhaps you are interested in setting up something for an open house, science fair, or star party?

You will leave this workshop with a plan of action, and pathways to obtaining the skills, tools, partnerships, and opportunities that you need to effectively implement it. In this three hour workshop you will: 1) Learn why and how people choose to, and do, learn in a variety of settings; 2) Think about and plan your goals for who you would like to impact and why; 3) Explore ways to discover if learning is taking place in these settings; and 4) Develop an implementation plan, using relevant and appropriate tools and techniques that you can put into immediate action!

We are offering this workshop as a part of the NASA funded CosmoQuest project (funded in part via NASA Cooperative Agreement #NNX16AC68A).

DIY Your Own Zooniverse Project

Tuesday, 3 January | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Fee: $35
We invite all to attend this hands-on, DIY workshop to create your own Zooniverse project for free, in an afternoon. Processing our increasingly large datasets poses a bottleneck for producing real scientific outcomes. Citizen science — engaging the public in research — provides a solution, particularly when coupled with machine learning algorithms. Zooniverse is the most widely used and successful citizen science platform, with over 1.5 million volunteers worldwide and over 40 active projects across the disciplines resulting in over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Faced with a rapidly growing demand for citizen science projects, Zooniverse launched a "Project Builder" which allows you, the researcher, to build your own crowd-sourced research project using the Zooniverse infrastructure and tools. Through this hands-on workshop, you will be able to build your own Zooniverse project. We will also share best practices for engaging with our Zooniverse volunteer community.

One-on-One Career Consultations (20-minute Sessions)

Fee: $20
Alaina Levine of Quantum Success Solutions, a career consultant, science writer, professional speaker, and comedian, will meet individually with attendees to provide confidential, customized career advice for people from student through mid-career. Attendees are encouraged to bring CV/resume, cover letter, or any other item you wish to have evaluated. Contact Diane Frendak to schedule your consultation.

Careers 101: Career Planning Workshop and Panel for Graduate Students and Postdocs

Wednesday, 4 January | 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Complimentary with meeting registration
This FREE workshop and panel discussion will center on the current and expanding crisis in the job and career market for astronomers. Specifically targeted towards graduate students and postdocs, this workshop will identify and investigate the shortage of traditional astronomy jobs, and how early-career scientists can best prepare for this challenge. Our focus will be on career planning for traditional astronomy positions. We will demonstrate how to orchestrate a personal career plan and develop a Plan B and Plan C for contingencies. We will discuss what early-career astronomers should do now to enhance their CVs and research reputations, and what they should look for in and how they can leverage a postdoc appointment to set themselves up for success in the field. We will also discuss non-traditional jobs and career paths in astronomy, and introduce the skills that are needed to pursue these. Q & A between panelists and workshop participants will be highly encouraged.

Introducing Current Research Into Your Classroom

Wednesday, 4 January | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Fee: $35
Do you wish you could ground your undergraduate classes more thoroughly in the latest astronomical research? Do you want to expose your students not just to facts, but also to the process of science? In this workshop, we’ll show you how you can use Astrobites to enhance your students’ experience.

Astrobites, founded in 2010 and officially supported by the AAS since 2016, is a graduate-student organization that publishes an online astrophysical literature blog. The blog consists of daily digests of recent articles appearing on astro-ph, with a current archive of posts covering more than one thousand recent astrophysics research papers. Each post is written at an undergraduate level, providing an accessible summary of the research methods and outcomes as well as useful background and context.

Over the span of this 1.5-hour workshop, we will provide an overview of Astrobites and discuss several different ways that you can use Astrobites to bring the most recent astronomical research into your undergraduate classroom. You will then have the opportunity to develop original lesson plans and curriculum materials with the assistance of Astrobites authors and administrators.

The organizers encourage you to bring your laptop and a lunch to this workshop.

New Methods for Teaching About Exoplanets

Wednesday, 4 January | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Fee: $35
Working with a national collaboration of astronomy educators, we have developed a suite of new active learning materials that bring to life the exciting methods by which we detect exoplanets using the Doppler Method, Transits, and Gravitational Microlensing. Come engage in a fun and supportive environment designed to help you successfully bringing the frontiers of exoplanet discoveries into the Astro 101 classroom. Participants will come away with instructional materials and assessment strategies ready for immediate classroom use.

Presenters will be Edward Prather and Gina Brissenden (Center for Astronomy Education, Steward Observatory, Univ. of Arizona), who encourage you to bring your lunch! This workshop is based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Career Hour 1: Leveraging Social Media for Networking and Career Advancement

Wednesday, 4 January | 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
More and more recruiters, job decision-makers, and hiring managers are using the web to find and research potential candidates. How can you make sure that you are not only found, but are ahead of the pack? In this session, we will discuss how decision-makers use LinkedIn and Facebook, and how you can use LinkedIn to establish yourself as a leader in your field, enhance your research reputation, and seek out and take advantage of innovative opportunities. We will demonstrate how to optimize your presence on Twitter, and create a winning LinkedIn profile, and how to use its multitude of features (such as joining and commenting in groups) to generate solid leads for your career.

Career Hour 2: Interviewing: What You Need to Do Before, During, and After to Get the Job

Thursday, 5 January | 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Find out what you need to know and do to get the job from the first moment of contact to the moment you leave the interview.

New Methods for Teaching in the Flipped Classroom

Thursday, 5 January | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Fee: $35
Have you been thinking about flipping your class? So have we! Working with a national collaboration of astronomy educators we have developed a suite of active learning materials that can be used during the freed-up class time the flipped classroom offers. Come engage in a fun and supportive environment designed to help you successfully motivate students to participate, facilitate student learning groups, assess student learning, and manage time in the flipped classroom. Participants will come away with instructional materials and assessment strategies ready for immediate classroom use.

Presenters will be Edward Prather and Gina Brissenden (Center for Astronomy Education, Steward Observatory, Univ. of Arizona), who encourage you to bring your lunch! This workshop is based upon work supported by NASA under award number NNX16AC65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Graduate School and Postdocs as a Means to a Job

Friday, 6 January | 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Complimentary with meeting registration
In this workshop, led by academic career counselor and author Dr. Karen Kelsky, we examine the conditions of the current American job market, the most common mistakes made by job seekers, and the ways you can maximize your chances of success while looking for a tenure-track job. We'll cover: the big-picture conditions of the US tenure-track job market; how to build a competitive CV in grad school; the all-important five-year-plan; how to think like a search committee; the qualities of a successful tenure-track job candidate; the ethos of job market documents; the most common mistakes made by job seekers; the three keys to academic interviewing; and the non-academic option. We also examine some of the intangible pitfalls that bedevil job documents and interviewing.


Undergraduate Orientation

Tuesday, 3 January | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Is Grapevine your first AAS Meeting? Are you looking for a Graduate or Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Program? Are you overwhelmed by the AAS Meeting? Or are you looking to connect with other students and faculty? Then the Undergraduate Orientation Reception is for you! When you register, make sure to sign up for this fun and informative event.

Opening Reception

Tuesday, 3 January | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Join your colleagues as we kick-off the 229th AAS meeting in Grapevine. This is a great time to network, socialize, eat, drink, and gear up for an exciting week.

Career Networking & Job Fair

Wednesday, 4 January | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Are you in the market for a career in astronomy? Thinking of making a change? Would you like to mentor an early career astronomer? Will your company be hiring in the near future? Then the Career Networking & Job Fair is the place to be. Network with employers and potential employees. Learn about the many career services offered by the AAS, especially those offered onsite at the 229th meeting. Employers will have a special opportunity to set-up a table to meet and greet with attendees.

Open Mic Night

Thursday, 5 January | 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Open Mic Night showcases our talented members, allowing them to share their musical and other talents with their friends and colleagues. We invite all musicians, singers, storytellers, comedians, poets, spoken word enthusiasts, or other performers to participate. Come have some fun and strut your stuff. Sign up online (coming soon) to ensure a spot and let us know what kind of equipment you need to perform. You can decide to participate on-site as well, but signing up early helps us ensure the proper equipment is available. Performance slots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Closing Reception

Saturday, 7 January | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Complimentary with meeting registration
Join us one last time to say farewell to your colleagues until the next AAS meeting.


Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize Fund

Contribute $25 or $50 to the Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize Fund
The Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize — established through the support of his father, John Doxsey, and other friends, family, and colleagues — provides graduate students or postdocs within one year of receiving or receipt of their PhD a monetary prize to enable the oral presentation of their dissertation research at a winter meeting of the AAS.

Purchase Carbon Offsets

Contribute up to $50 to the purchase carbon offsets
Over 90% of the carbon emissions from a typical scientific meeting come from participant travel to the meeting. We are encouraging participants to contribute up to $50 towards the purchase of carbon offsets, which will be used for a variety of third-party certified projects to reduce carbon emissions. Offsets are not a panacea, but will go a small way towards compensating for the meeting's carbon footprint.