Haverford College

News Room

Graduate Fellowship Sends Anna Pancoast ’09 to Explore Galaxies

Anna Pancoast '09
Anna Pancoast '09

Pancoast will pursue a Ph.D. in physics at UC Santa Barbara with the help of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Galaxies—both near and far, far away—are the forte of Anna Pancoast ’09. Now, as a Ph.D. candidate in the physics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she’ll study them further, with the help of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship. The Graduate Fellowships support outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and math.

At Haverford, Pancoast’s senior thesis focused on the galaxy NGC 2442, which is thought to have recently interacted with another galaxy. “In the case of NGC 2442, we wanted to map the star formation and dust obscuration and compare the galaxy's properties with normal and other interacting galaxies in order to see just how much of an effect the small scale galaxy interaction had on the system,” says Pancoast, who was advised by Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Anna Sajina.

Pancoast’s research has heightened her interest in studying galaxies with a combination of observation and simulations. “Observations tell us what's really going on, but only one snapshot in time,” she says.  “With simulations, we can use our understanding of galactic structure to follow the evolution of a galaxy.”

The financial benefits of the NSF Fellowship, she says, will give her more freedom to pursue research as a graduate student. “I am very thankful to all the faculty members—Anna Sajina, [Associate Professor of Physics] Suzanne Amador Kane, and [Assistant Professor of Astronomy] Beth Willman—who helped prepare me for winning this fellowship and to those who helped me in the application process.”

-Brenna McBride

Originally posted at: http://www.haverford.edu/news/stories/22211/23