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February 26, 2007

Astronomy graduate student wins Michelson Fellowship

By Tim Stephens

Katie Morzinski, a graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics, has been awarded a 2007 Michelson Graduate Fellowship. This three-year fellowship will support her work in UCSC's Laboratory for Adaptive Optics developing technology for imaging extrasolar planets.

Photo of Katie Morzinski

Katie Morzinski

Morzinski's research focuses on the use in astronomy of tiny deformable mirrors built using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. MEMS deformable mirrors are a promising technology for advanced adaptive optics systems designed to sharpen the images obtained by telescopes. Morzinski's work supports one of the goals of the Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO), which is to develop extreme adaptive optics systems for high-contrast imaging of extrasolar planets.

Her academic advisers are Claire Max, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and director of the CfAO; Bruce Macintosh, a visiting researcher at UCSC who is also affiliated with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and Don Gavel, director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics.

The Michelson Fellowship includes a $30,000 annual stipend, plus funding for education and research expenses. The Michelson Program, administered by the Michelson Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, seeks to further both the technical development and broad scientific application of exoplanet-related technologies.

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