is a recent graduate from HYSA. As are many of our students, she excelled in both HYSA and ASU classes, and as a senior was ready for a new type of challenge. Emily had an affinity for science, with straight A’s in all science subjects but was not yet sure which direction her interest would take her. She worked with our mentorship advisor to learn about the array of scientific research being conducted at ASU, and became very excited about the work being done at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Emily started a mentorship her senior year with Dr. Curtis W. Marean, Foundation Professor and associate director, Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Emily began her mentorship in the fall, traveling by the intercampus shuttle to Tempe campus on Tuesday afternoons and all day on Fridays. Under the direction of Dr. Marean and a few of his graduate students, Emily participated in the 3D silcrete roughness scanning project, which studied the heat treatment of stone in ~164 k years old stone tools. Emily operated a state-of-the-art 3D microscope to analyze silicon peels that record roughness measurements from the surface of artifacts. Their research focuses on determining which stone tool technologies are being heat treated prior to production and how this technological strategy varies in South Africa 164 thousand years ago. As the mentorship came to an end the following May, Emily had made plans with Dr. Marean to contribute to the team’s publications as well as travel to South Africa to excavate artifacts during a future field season. According to Emily, the mentorship provided her with an experience that would be difficult to attain in classes alone. She learned how research is done, both in the field, and in the lab. She gained working experience at collaboration on a team, conversing professionally with professors and graduate students, and following through with commitments, lessons that will help her to make strong professional connections in the future. She better understood how to balance classes, work, and her personal life. By the end of her mentorship, she was ready to step into a research position as an undergraduate in college, with experience, confidence, and resilience. It is an invaluable opportunity that will greatly influence her academic and professional trajectory.
Alexa is a recent graduate from HYSA. Alexa came to us as a middle schooler, and the moment she stepped through our doors, knew she wanted to be a physicist. She had a voracious appetite for physics, staying up late at night to read published journal articles in astrophysics. By her junior year, she had exhausted HYSA’s physics course options and was well into the ASU math course trajectory. We arranged a mentorship between Alexa and Dr. Rogier Windhorst, Regents' and Foundation Professor JWST Interdisciplinary Scientist
School of Earth & Space Exploration. Dr. Windhorst has contributed significantly to unraveling the formation and evolution of distant galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope, and the role that supermassive black holes and Active Galactic Nuclei have played in the process of galaxy assembly. He is one of the world's six Interdisciplinary Scientists for NASA's 6.5 meter James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched in 2018. Alexa began her mentorship in the fall, traveling to Tempe campus on the intercampus shuttle every Friday. She participated in the weekly graduate seminar between research professors and their graduate students. During her two year mentorship with Dr. Windhorst, Alexa and his group at ASU used JWST to begin mapping the epoch of First Light in detail. Alexa analyzed images from Hubble and Webb telescopes to search for distant galaxies and to study black holes. The mentorship experience, according to Alexa, was an incredible and extremely illuminating experience. Through her work with research physicists, Alexa was able to narrow her interest to applied mathematics. Alexa gained a rare insight into what it actually meant to be a research scientist in astrophysics, and while she enjoyed her work, the experience helped her to realize her true love was in mathematics. Alexa graduated from HYSA with two years of research with a world class institution, and with the experience and confidence to step into an intentional and well understood degree path in maths.