Pasadena ISEE Chapter

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The Pasadena ISEE Chapter began in 2013 with and has included participants in ISEE’s Professional Development Program (PDP) from both Carnegie Observatories and Caltech/JPL.  Our Pasadena Chapter Liaison is ISEE alumna Gwen Rudie, a Staff Astronomer at Carnegie Observatories.  

Opportunities to participate in ISEE’s Professional Development Program

The 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.

Postdocs at Carnegie Observatories, and graduate students and postdocs in astronomy and related fields at Caltech/JPL, can apply to participate in the PDP through this chapter.  Grad students and postdocs from the Pasadena chapter can apply for PDP fee waivers and travel support from ISEE (via PDP application), which is available through this 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.

More information on applying to the PDP. The first step is to register by Wednesday, November 14, 2018.

PDP 2019 participants are likely to participate in the Carnegie Observatories REU program or other nearby venues.

Past teaching activities featuring participants from this chapter


  • Alex Ji (Team Lead, Carnegie Observatories), Alicia Lanz (Carnegie Observatories), and Shuvo Uddin (Carnegie Observatories) designed and taught a PREP activity for the Carnegie Summer Undergrad Research Program in which learners interpreted features of astronomical spectra using principles of atomic physics and thermal radiation, and constructed explanations using evidence. 



  • Johanna Teske (Team Lead, Carnegie Observatories), Allison Strom (Carnegie Observatories), and Jeremy Chastenet (UC San Diego) designed and taught an activity in the Carnegie Summer Undergrad Research Program in which learners used distance and redshift measurements of supernovae or standard candles to distinguish between different classes of coxmological models and use these models to infer the age of the universe, and constructed explanations using evidence.


  • Rosalie McGurk (Team Lead,Carnegie Observatories), Alexander Ji (Carnegie Observatories), and Decker French (Carnegie Observatories) designed and taught a PREP activity for the Carnegie Summer Undergrad Research Program in which learners measured the distance to extragalactic objects by fitting a model to lightcurves of standard candles, and used models to interpret data 


  • Johanna Teske (Team Lead, Carnegie), Marja Seidel (Carnegie), and Nicholas Timmons (UC Irvine) designed and taught a PREP activity for summer undergraduate interns at Carnegie Observatories.  Their activity focused on the relationship between particle (gas, stellar) motion and spectral line broadening, and on the scientific practice of explaining results based on evidence.  
  • Donal O’Sullivan (Caltech) worked on a team with Megan Ansdell (Team Lead, University of Hawaii) and Lu Shen (UC Davis) developing an activity on adequate sampling principles in spatial, spectral, and temporal domains.  They managed the activity for an international cohort of participants at the Thirty Meter Telescope Future Leaders Workshop hosted by ISEE at UCSC.


  • Rachael Beaton (Team Lead, Carnegie), Johanna Teske (Carnegie), Erika Carlson (Carnegie), and Gwen Rudie (Carnegie) designed and taught a PREP activity for summer interns at Carnegie.  The activity explored galaxy redshifts as caused by cosmological expansion or by motion within a massive structure, and supported interns in visualizing evidence and forming explanations.


  • Vicky Scowcroft (Team Lead, Carnegie), Rachael Beaton (Carnegie), Stephanie Tonnesen (Carnegie), and Jeffrey Rich (Carnegie) designed and taught an activity on error analysis and distinguishing between systematic and random errors, for a stellar astronomy lab course at Citrus College.


  • Chad Galley (Caltech) and Liz Rivers (Caltech) worked with Sebastiano Cantalupo (Team Lead, UCSC) to design an activity for incoming transfer students in the WEST program at UCSC.  Their activity focused on understanding interference and diffraction phenomena using wave properties of light, and on developing quantitative models of observed phenomena.

Other Pasadena PDP alumni include: Sarah Burke-Spolaor (Caltech), Jeffrey Rich (Carnegie), Rik Williams (Carnegie), and Shannon Patel (Carnegie).


Individuals affiliated with Carnegie Observatories who are interested in applying to the PDP should contact the Pasadena/Carnegie ISEE Chapter Lead: Gwen Rudie, .

Graduate students and postdocs at Caltech or elsewhere in the region interested in applying to the PDP, or seeking general information about ISEE, should contact the ISEE program manager in charge of this chapter, Nicholas McConnell: