Gain Elevators and the Cosmos

In the spring quarter of 1993 the graduate students at the University of Minnesota hosted a regional conference for astrophysics graduate students. The title ``Grain Elevators and the Cosmos was selected to capture both the informal, midwest setting, and at the same time the grand nature of the topic astronomers study. The purpose of this conference was to provide graduate and advanced undergraduate students in the Upper Midwest states and throughout the nation with the opportunity to meet and discuss their astronomy and astrophysics research in a professional setting. Student attendees were be expected (but not required) to present either a short oral presentation or a poster display describing their current research activities. The conference was attended by approximately 30 students from 8 midwest institutions. Click here for a group picture.

The following year, in the spring of 1994, the Astronomy graduate students organized the second Grain Elevators and the Cosmos conference, a scientific meeting for students in astrophysics. It was held on the U of M campus May 27-29, immediately preceding the 184th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in downtown Minneapolis. Thirty-two graduate and undergraduate students from the Universities of Minnesota (including Morris), Washington, Pittsburg, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Caltech attended. Patterned on last year's successful event, the conference featured two days of student talks and posters describing their research projects. Students especially appreciated the anecdotes and advice during a keynote address on ``Getting a Job at A Small College'' by Dr. Jim Eckert, professor of physics at Harvey Mudd College in California. The conference was capped on Sunday afternoon by a keynote address from Dr. Hugh Van Horn, Director of the Astronomy Division at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Van Horn presented his analysis of the current status of astronomy support at the national level, the outlook for astronomy funding and the role of astronomy in the national science agenda. Conference participants were able to relax and visit with one another during a picnic Saturday evening held at the O'Brien Observatory. Click here for a group picture.