New York City ISEE Chapter

Since 2014, ISEE and the NYC chapter have been collaborating in providing professional development to graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at multiple New York institutions, including CUNY, Columbia, AMNH, NYU, CCA, and Rutgers. The chapter is currently focused on astronomy, astrophysics, and computational astrophysics, and participants have the opportunity to teach undergraduate students preparing for a variety of undergraduate research experiences, including REUs, AstroCom NYC, and Space Grant participants. Emily Rice, 2006-08, 2014, and 2015 Professional Development Program (PDP) alumn, is an Associate Professor at the CUNY College of Staten Island and a Research Associate at AMNH, and serves as the NYC Chapter Lead.

The Professional Development Program (PDP) aims to advance leaders in effective and inclusive STEM education through a suite of workshops organized into two intensives, a practical teaching experience, and reflection on what was learned. 

Recent NYC PDP participants and teaching activities

Below are descriptions of the past NYC PDP teams including the audience and program they taught for as part of their PDP experience.


AstroCom NYC PREP: Primarily CUNY undergraduates preparing for summer research experience

PDP Team: Kate Storey-Fisher (Team Lead, NYU), Paul McNulty (NYU), Michael Hammer (University of Arizona)

Content Focus: Learners will use the concepts of emission and the continuum to explain the physical components of galaxies.

STEM Practice Focus: Using models to develop explanations


Columbia PREP

PDP Team: Lauren Anderson (Team Lead, CCA), Nick Young (Michigan St. University), Rahul Jain (Michigan St. University)

Content Focus: Learners will build a decision tree to analyze and solve a predictive problem, and use accuracy as a metric to generate the best predictions

STEM Practice Focus: Learners will evaluate quantitative models for their ability to make testable predictions




AstroCom NYC PREP: Primarily CUNY undergraduates preparing for summer research experience

PDP Team: Chao-Ling Hung (Team Lead, Manhattan College), Kate Storey-Fisher (Graduate Student, NYU), Mark Richardson (Postdoc, AMNH), Miao Li (Research Fellow, CCA)

Content Focus: Learners reported confidence in a star hosting a transiting exoplanet given its light curve, using Bayesian inference.

STEM Practice Focus: Making a hypothesis based on evidence. 



Center for Computational Astrophysics PREP: Primarily CUNY undergraduates preparing for summer research experience

PDP Team: Steven Mohammed (Team Lead), Adrian Lucy, Zephyr Penoyre

Content Focus: Learners used an evolutionary model of spirals/ellipticals to propose mechanisms to differentiate the two in simulated data

STEM Practice Focus: Designing and Carrying out Investigations

Students had the task of identifying why a galaxy is spiral or elliptical using an Illustris simulation and relevant variables to investigate a claim and interpret whether the data supported that claim or not. When students had trouble progressing during their investigations, we facilitated their progress by asking questions related to concepts such as orbital dynamics and stellar evolution.


NYC Bridge Program: Undergraduates preparing for summer research experience in astronomy

PDP Team: Andrea Derdzinski (Team Lead), Sheehan Ahmed, Jillian Bellovary, Steven Mohammed

Content Focus: Learners explored how sample size and variance of a data set play a role in confidence levels in order to analyze a claim using a measure of statistical significance.

STEM Practice Focus: Explaining results based on evidence

Learners engaged with the concept of statistical significance, particularly confidence intervals for linear regression, in interpreting a result from scientific data. The ultimate goal was to have each learner demonstrate their conclusion about the significance of a trend with an effective visualization made using Python. As scientists use data to gain an understanding about the world, it is important to understand the consequences of data having inherent scatter that can affect the significance of a proposed claim.


Opportunities to participate in ISEE’s Professional Development Program

Graduate students and postdocs affiliated with CUNY, Columbia, CCA, AMNH, NYU, or Rutgers can apply for PDP fee waivers and travel support from ISEE (via PDP application), which is available through the NYC chapter’s participation in the Advancing Inclusive Leaders in Astronomy project funded by the National Science Foundation (AST#17431117) and supports participants in astronomy and physics fields. Applicants are encouraged to secure some of their own institutional or grant funding, which will increase likelihood of acceptance and financial support from ISEE.

Graduate students and postdocs with the above affiliations who are interested in applying for the Professional Development Program should contact the NYC ISEE Chapter Leads

Emily Rice:

Greg Bryan:

Others in the region interested in applying to the PDP (including junior faculty at any of the institutions above), or seeking general information about ISEE, should contact the NYC Chapter ISEE program manager, Rafael Palomino: