Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Meet Central American-Caribbean Astronomy Bridge Program Fellows - Part 2

The Central American - Caribbean bridge in astrophysics is a program created to mentor and train the next generation of students in astrophysics from that region. This was created because there is an enormous lack of resources and research opportunities for students interested in astrophysics. We hold monthly webinars and invite a speaker every month to talk about their personal life, academic obstacles, and research. The goal is for the students to feel represented, motivated, and capable, especially women in our group. More recently, we began a remote REU-like internship where students are able to complete a mini-project within a four-month period. Last Fall 2019, we had four students from Costa Rica and Honduras who worked with professors from Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. This Spring 2020, we are working with three students from Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. This opportunity brings research opportunities to these students and connects them to potential advisors and PhD programs.

In this series, we will highlight selected fellows. If you'd like to learn more about the program and ways you can get involved please visit https://cencabridgeastro.weebly.com/

My name is Nicole Stephanie Mejia Cerros. I was born on in Olanchito in the department of Yoro in Honduras. My childhood was a great influence in choosing a career in astronomy. My teachers at school and my parents motivated me to discover and read more about science topics. Many of the books I read were about astronomy in some way, and one of my teachers would always share with me what she had read on the subject. I did my high school in “Inmaculada Concepci√≥n” in Olanchito. In my town, there is not much development of science but my teachers always motivated me to pursue my dreams and choose this career. During high school, many questions about physical phenomena and the origin of the universe arose in me, seeking to understand them more thoroughly. Currently, I am a student of Astronomy and Astrophysics and also Physics at the Universidad Nacional Aut√≥noma de Honduras (UNAH).

My favorite hobby is dancing, it is one of the things I enjoy most since it is a way of expressing my feelings through movement. I like to learn new choreographies. In the same way, I enjoy singing and venturing into different genres of music. I really enjoy traveling; every trip and every place is a new experience. I consider myself a very charismatic person. I really like to make friends. I have friends in many parts of the world. I really enjoy helping other people. It is important that as human beings we help each other and always seek the common good.

Facebook: Nicole Stephanie Cerros
Instagram: nicole.astro
Email: cerrosstephanie_at_gmail.com

What kind of work do you do?

I have collaborated with the astronomical nights project offered by the Faculty of Space Sciences of UNAH. I am also part of the SWISE (Society of Women in Space Exploration) project. I belong to the Central American- Caribbean Bridge for astrophysics group. I am currently collaborating on a remote internship on "The distribution of dark matter galaxies and subhalos in clusters of galaxies in the EAGLE cosmological hydrodynamic simulation." My favorite areas of astronomy (at the moment) are astrophysical instrumentation and galaxies.

Future plans (academic or non-academic goals)
-Participate in schools and/or astronomy internships in other countries.
-Study a master's degree in another country.
-Earn a PhD in astrophysics.
-To do investigation.
-Learn ballet and contemporary dance.

What are your aspirations? (what do you want to do or aspire to be)

I would like to inspire other girls to study astronomy or any science degree. I have had many difficulties along the way and I want to inspire and help other people to follow their dreams. I hope to have a PhD in astronomy, since I would like to be part of the development of astronomy in Honduras.


My name is Mitsa Marisol Castellanos Pineda. I was born and raised on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Guatemala. Since I was little I was interested in understanding the phenomena around me. I can remember that my first encounter with science was in a book cellar of the elementary school I attended. I began to read an encyclopedia of Astronomy at recess. After participating in several interscholastic science competitions, I decided that I wanted to study something related to it.

I started my studies in Physics at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, the first semesters were difficult because I did not have a good background, however, with much effort, work, and perseverance I managed to pass the courses. I am currently in the last year of the Bachelor of Physics degree, and throughout these years I have attended different schools and congresses on Astronomy and Fundamental Physics. Last summer I attended the ESAOBELA astronomy school held in Tonantzintla, Puebla, Mexico, which was a wonderful experience where I did professional Astronomy and lived with people from all over Latin America. Some of my favorite hobbies are listening to classical music, reading popular science books, and riding my bicycle.

What kind of work do you do?

I am currently in a research project on Blazares for my final bachelor practices, which I do with my advisor Dr. Rodrigo Sacahui and Mabel Osorio, Guatemalan astrophysicists from my University in collaboration with Dr. Magda Gonzalez, a Mexican astrophysicist at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The project consists of making a quantitative comparison between observational data and theoretical predictions observed in blark Mrk 421. Observational data are obtained from different observatories, VERITAS, HESS, ARGO among others.

Future plans (academic or non-academic goals)?

After graduating from the degree I want to continue my postgraduate studies related in Astrophysics and Cosmology. And later I would like to dedicate myself to research, I also want to develop science projects in my country and also create connections between the institutions of different countries and my university. I would also like to teach at the University and work on dissemination projects.

What are your aspirations? (what do you want to do or aspire to be)

I want to be a quality researcher and teacher and I want to bring some progress to the understanding of astrophysics or science in general. And I would like to be a science promoter in underdeveloped countries like my country so that more boys and girls enter this beautiful area. I also want to be a source of inspiration for girls and show them that science can also be done by girls.

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