All Part of the Processing

Laura Congreve Hunter

Laura Congreve Hunter (on the left) with Dr. Aileen O'Donoghue her supervisor from St Lawrence University.

Laura Congreve Hunter '17

Major: astronomy and physics

Internship: researcher, St. Lawrence University, Arecibo Observatory

The summer of 2016, I spent as a research assistant at St. Lawrence University. I worked with a professor named Dr. Aileen O'Donoghue processing astronomical images. Processing astronomical images is how raw images taken by telescopes with ccd cameras attached becomes useful information for astronomers.

I received this internship by emailing Aileen and asking if she needed or wanted a research assistant for the summer. She agreed to take me on and I worked for her for 2 months. My time working for her included a one week workshop with the entire Undergraduate ALFALFA Team (UAT), a group of astronomers dedicated to studying galaxy content and morphology which includes dozens of colleges/universities and over 50 people across the US, at the Greenbank Observatory in West Virginia.

A big part of why Aileen accepted me as an assistant for the summer was that I already had experience in this type of image processing. One of the classes I took junior year focused on learning how to process astronomical images and the theory behind why the images need processing in the first place.

The class, Observational Techniques, is my favorite class I've taken and a large part of my decision to apply for jobs after graduation working for observatories and the Space Telescope Science Institute. It has also influenced my choice to apply for graduate school in astronomy after taking a gap year.