NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars Program

Upon joining the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration in March 2020, I convened a monthly series of webinars linking diverse organizations such as the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS), American Physical Society (APS) and National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) with EHT. This N-SANE Alliance culminated in outreach initiatives, including the establishment of a feeder program between NSBP and EHT.

Founded in July 2020 at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), the NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars program supports summer internships in EHT-related black hole physics for students traditionally underrepresented in astronomy. The NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars continued in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and is in the midst of a 2024 search.

The program has already resulted in a 2021 master’s thesis from Fisk University, a 2022 publication in the high-impact MNRAS journal, a 2023 publication with two Scholars as coauthors, and recent graduate program offers from Princeton and Yale (to 2023 Scholar Kaitlyn Shavelle, Columbia ’24). Profiles of all current and past Scholars can be found below:

2023 NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars: Dashon Jones (Left) tracked photon orbits around event horizons (with mentor Daniel Palumbo) and and Kaitlyn Shavelle (Right) is modeled plasma hotspots (with mentors Prashant Kocherlakota and Paul Tiede).

Katelyn Shavelle – Harvard/SAO Presentation: Detecting the Sgr A* Photon Ring Using Polarization in Simulated ngEHT Data (Mentor: Daniel Palumbo)

Dashon Jones – Harvard/SAO Presentation: Black Hole Time Delays and Higher Order Images (Starting 28:44) (Mentors: Prashant Kocherlakota and Paul Tiede)

Publication: Anantua et al. (2023) (including Nigam and Durodola)

Carissma McGee – Harvard/SAO Presentation: Exploring the Measurability of Black Hole Shadows Using Space VLBI (Mentor: Dom Pesce)

Emmanuel Durodola – Harvard/SAO Presentation: Constraining the Spin of SMBHs using Structures in EHT Images (Mentor: Koushik Chatterjee)

Nitya Nigam – Harvard/SAO Presentation: ngEHT Polarization Calibration (Mentor: Lindy Blackburn)

2021 NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars: Brandon Curd (Left) and Marvin Quenten Jones Jr. (Right) have pursued novel and challenging applications pushing the frontiers of Event Horizon Telescope science.

Brandon Curd – Super-Eddington GRRMHD Simulations and the Prospect of EHT Detection (Mentors: Razieh Emami and Richard Anantua)

Publication: Curd et. al (2022)

Curd 2022 Harvard PhD Thesis (Ch. 5 on EHT/ngEHT TDE detectability)

Mar 2021 MIT Presentation: NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars – Cultivating the Next Generation of EHT Scholars by Partnering Across Backgrounds

2021 Call for ApplicantsNSBP Website

Inaugural (2020) NSBP/SAO EHT Scholars: Elon Price (Left) and Paul Tola (Right) have completed seminal projects in theoretical and observational black hole astrophysics.

Elon Price – Fisk Master’s Thesis (Mentors: Christian Fromm and Richard Anantua)

Paul Tola – Harvard/SAO Presentation (Mentor: Alexander Raymond)

AAS 2020 Press Release: Program Opens New Research Pathways for Underrepresented Young Astrophysicists