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Scholar Spotlight: Hallie M. Fousey

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hallie M. Fousey – Michelle & Julian Francis Scholar
1st Year Scholar, PhD Candidate, Physics
The George Washington University

Research involves studying gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic stellar explosions in the universe, with observational data from some of the largest telescopes on earth, using these extreme explosions as probes of the farthest reaches of the universe, and evaluating and optimizing the capabilities of new instrumentation to further their studies in the future.  

Describe the expected benefit of your research to society:
Studying gamma-ray bursts allows us to examine the history of the universe and learn about the environments of the first galaxies and stars that created the material of which we are made, giving us an opportunity to learn more about where we come from. Besides this fundamental and foundational research, part of my PhD thesis involves preparatory work for SCORPIO, a new instrument being built for the 8-meter optical/near-infrared Gemini Observatory in Chile. While SCORPIO will be valuable for its data collection capabilities, SCORPIO and Gemini also represent a partnership between at least 6 different countries, fostering a collaborative environment between scientists of various nationalities and backgrounds, and pushing astrophysics forward together.

Indicate how an ARCS award might benefit your research:
The ARCS award would benefit my research because it would help fund an extended trip abroad to work with some of my collaborators in person, those at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the Universities of Leicester and Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Since June 2020, I have assisted in the development of the Gamow Explorer, a proposed space-based gamma-ray burst telescope. While the Gamow Explorer was not accepted for the NASA MIDEX proposal call in 2021, this travel would give me the opportunity to brainstorm possibilities for the future of Gamow with my collaborators. Furthermore, in 2021 I joined the STARGATE collaboration, an international group of astronomers dedicated to gamma-ray burst follow-up using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Going abroad would give me a chance to work directly with my peers and experienced collaborators from STARGATE at the institutions mentioned above, learn how to perform detailed analysis of data from the Very Large Telescope, and prepare publications for peer-reviewed journals on my research.

Community Service, Contribution to DEI, Volunteer Work:
I am a member of the Women & Gender Minorities in Physics Group at The George Washington University, and I have contributed to some of its events. Most recently, I volunteered as a member of a graduate school panel for undergraduate group members to ask questions and discuss what they can expect from life as a graduate student.