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CIERA Mentored High-School Student wins First Place in Space Science at the Northeastern Science and Engineering Fair

High school student Sara Anjum recently won first place in the Space Science category at the Northeastern Science and Engineering Fair held in Cleveland, Ohio. She also received first place in a special awards category by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and an invitation to present her results at the upcoming AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in June.
Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data for over a million galaxies and working closely with her mentor, Dr. Laura Trouille (CIERA Postdoctoral Fellow and Astronomer at the Adler Planetarium), Sara looked for trends in galaxy properties over cosmic time. In particular, Sara found that distant galaxies had smaller stellar bulge masses for a given central supermassive black hole mass. This suggests that earlier in the Universe, black holes found a way to grow relatively quickly, while the stellar bulge surrounding them lagged behind. This is an active area of research in astronomy.
Last year Sara enrolled in Dr. Trouille’s online computational astrophysics course, taught through Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development. At the end of the course, Sara was able to continue pursuing her love of astronomy through Jacklyn Naughton’s Illinois Math and Science Academy STEM independent research course. She reconnected with Dr. Trouille to be the research mentor for her independent research project, which she then submitted to the science fair.