UCLA Astronomy & Astrophysics ISEE Chapter

UCLA has a long history with ISEE, as one of the major partners in the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO), where ISEE began. With CfAO funding, UCLA graduate students have participated in the ISEE's Professional Development Program (PDP) since its inception in 2001 and have been major contributors to the program as it evolved, in particular as it changed from a workshop to a program in the earliest year, and as a full participation pathway was developed for returning participants. The UCLA ISEE chapter is currently focused on astronomy and astrophysics, with a PREP course for summer REU students as a recurring teaching venue. Michael Fitzgerald (2005, 2006, and 2007 PDP alumnus) is an Associate Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics and serves as the liaison.

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.

Graduate students and postdocs from the UCLA 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.

UCLA PDP participants will likely participate in the UCLA PREP venue for the UCLA Astronomy & Astrophysics REU, and other nearby venues.

Recent UCLA PDP participants and teaching activities:



  • Devin Chu (Team Lead, UCLA), Ryan Dorrill (University of Hawaii), and Stacey Sueoka (NSO/DKIST) designed and taught an activity for the Akamai Workforce Initiative PREP course.  Students used the laws of reflection and refraction to explain several phenomena with light in different media, and constructed accessible, evidence-based explanations.


  • Matt Hosek (Team Lead, UCLA), Dino Hsu (UCSD), and Navin Sridhar (Columbia University) designed and taught an activity for incoming physics and astronomy transfer students at UCLA.  Students used confidence intervals to quantify the significance of a potential detected event, and used evidence and reasoning to justify their claim.



  • Michelle Consiglio (Team Lead, UCLA), Anna Ciurlo (UCLA), and Michael Topping (UCLA) designed and taught an activity in the PREP for the UCLA Astronomy & Astrophysics REU in which students used signal-to-noise ratios to design a telescope array with a specified resolution at a specified confidence level, and designed solutions within requirements.
  • Devin Chu (UCLA) participated on a team with Stacey Sueoka (Team Lead, NSO/DKIST) and Elizabeth Koeman-Shields (UH, HIGP, now at Angelo State University in Physics and Geosciences) to design and teach an activity about using the laws of reflection and refraction to explain how light interacts with media of different shape, thickness, and index of refraction, and constructing explanations using evidence.


  • Michelle Consiglio (Lead, UCLA) and Kevin Stahl (UCLA) designed and taught an activity focused on signal-to-noise principles and how to design a solution within requirements, as a PREP for the UCLA Astronomy & Astrophysics REU.  They prompted learners to define an adequate signal-to-noise threshold and design a corresponding array of cell phone towers that would address a population map of customers.


  • Helen Kim (UCLA) and Pauline Arriaga (UCLA) worked on a team with Etsuko Mieda (Lead, University of Toronto) and Alysa Obertas (University of Toronto) to create an activity on designing imaging systems within requirements, focusing on plate scale, focal length, and field of view.  They taught their activity at the Dunlap Institute Instrumentation Summer School in Toronto, Canada.
  • Michelle Consiglio (UCLA) worked on a team with Austin Barnes (Lead, ISEE), Caitlin Johnson (UCSC), and Stacey Sueoka (National Solar Observatory) to create an activity on principles of adequate sampling, and defining requirements for an imaging program or monitoring campaign.  They taught the activity as part of a short course for engineering and science majors, to kick off the 2016 Akamai Internship Program in Hawaii.


  • Anna Boehle (Lead, UCLA), Emily Martin (UCLA), and Robin Rehagen (UCLA) designed and taught an activity focused on engaging students in working with Errors on the mean of multiple measurements, and explaining results supported by evidence. This activity was taught as a PREP for the UCLA REU program.  


  • Anna Boehle (Lead, UCLA), Kirsten Larson (Univ. of Hawaii), and Jessica Werk (UCSC) designed and taught an activity in which students justified the minimum number of measurements required to answer a specific scientific question using the concept of  the error of the mean given a Gaussian distribution.  This activity was designed and taught as a PREP for the UCLA Astronomy & Astrophysics REU.
UCLA PDP alumni from 2001-2013 include: Matthew Barczys, Christopher Crockett, Ian Crossfield, Tuan Do, Thomas Esposito, Suvi Gezari, Tiffany Glassman, Seth Hornstein, Denise Kaisler, Quinn Konopacky, Kristin Kulas, Jessica Lu, Michael McElwain, Betsy Mills, Jenny Patience, Marc Rafelski, Emily Rice, Angelle Tanner, Shelley Wright, and Sylvana Yelda.

Graduate students and postdocs at UCLA who are interested in applying to the PDP should contact the UCLA ISEE Chaper Lead: Michael Fitzgeraldmpfitz@ucla.edu, PAB 3-949, 310-206-7853.

Others 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: njmcconn@ucsc.edu