Make The Connection

September 2, 2020 | By Cole Hatcher

Astronomical Opportunity

Ohio Wesleyan Students Collaborate from India, Japan to Study Starspots with OWU Professor

Kaito Iwasaki ’23

Name: Kaito Iwasaki ’23
Hometown: Sendai, Japan
Major: Astrophysics
OWU Connection Experience: Ohio Wesleyan’s Summer Science Research Program (SSRP)

Iwasaki and Sakshi Gupta ’22 of Navi Mumbai, India, spent 10 weeks studying “Starspots on LO Pegasi” under the mentorship of Robert Harmon, Ph.D., professor of Physics and Astronomy.

‘An Unforgettable Experience’

“It was an unforgettable experience to be able to take part in our research in this hard situation. This summer was especially challenging to us because we had to overcome time differences between us. My fellow researcher Sakshi and I joined the research remotely from India and Japan, respectively, while our supervisor, Dr. Harmon, collaborated with us from the U.S. I am proud of being able to be a part of this team over the summer.”

Sakshi Gupta ’22

‘Precise Procedures’

“I hoped to learn how astronomers really did research from this experience. Our research intended to study starspots of LO Pegasi using a telescope at Perkins Observatory. After taking images, we generated light curves in order to map the surface of the star. By doing so, we expected to provide a better understanding of solar magnetic activities.

“In reality, this research experience was different from what I typically did in the classes. To do research, I needed to be responsible for its background knowledge and techniques. It required me to understand not only the big picture of the research but also detailed precise procedures.”

Broad Opportunities

“This experience has motivated me to study more about advanced Physics and Astronomy.

“I realized how broad the field of Astronomy (and Physics and Astrophysics as well) is. So, this summer made me start thinking about which subject of the field I am really interested in.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I decided to come to Ohio Wesleyan mainly because OWU offers a great program for astrophysics. Since time spent as an undergraduate is the one of the most important and challenging times to get into the field of astrophysics, the program at OWU is helpful to start my career. Besides that, being a member of the OWU Track and Field team further encouraged me to come here.”

My Plans After Graduation

“My plan after graduating Ohio Wesleyan is to go to graduate school to study more about Physics and Astronomy.”