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Natural Science and Mathematics Blog

Star Gazing Event

The School of Natural Science and Mathematics and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes hosted a unique event on February 13th 2015 – an evening of stargazing. More than 50 people braved the cold to look through the Science Department’s telescopes at objects unique to the winter sky, including Comet Lovejoy, Jupiter and its moons, and the Orion Nebula. Astronomy professor Jason Young gave a brief introduction and a lesson in how to use the telescopes. “This was really incredible. Thank you so much for sharing this passion of yours with us. It was really eye opening to learn about and see what can be so overlooked. I really am looking forward to researching and taking more time to enjoy what lights our world,” said one stargazer.


Don’t forget about your chance to win a $75 dollar gift card to Amazon! Above are the questions for Week 2 of Mount Math Madness. Remember to send in your solutions to This can be also viewed via Facebook:

Bill DowdThank you to Alumni Bill Dowd who participated in our Undergraduate Seminar Series Friday! Mr. Dowd enlightened students by sharing the experiences of his challenging career path. Mr. Dowd always planned to use his Biology degree from the Mount to propel him straight into Medical School upon graduation. Unfortunately, his aspirations of Med School would come to a standstill as schools denied his application or put him on waiting lists that never seemed to be answered.

Like any other fellow Mountie, Bill Dowd was not going to let a little bump in the road ruin his future. Rising to the challenge Mr. Dowd ventured into pharmaceutical sales where he found a company that would give him a chance. With very minimal sales experience he relied on his biology degree from the Mount to give him an advantage he so desperately needed. He felt as if he "knew the language" that his customers needed to engage in; he would be able to answer the real questions about the things he was selling because it was his field of study and most importantly his passion. Once management realized Mr. Dowd's success in sales they offered him a sales trainer position.

This first promotion served as a key milestone and the motivational spring Mr. Dowd needed to catapult his career to the top. In pursuit to the top he decided to continue his education and get his master's degree in marketing. By constantly adding to his skill set and furthering his education, Mr. Dowd was able to become the CEO of Eckert & Ziegler BEBIG. Bill Dowd is a reminder to our students that sometimes the realities of life can sometimes be harsh but we can't let them stop us. We have to be willing and able to re-invent ourselves by adding skill sets and furthering our education so that we don't miss the opportunities to spring our careers to the top!

Once again we want to thank Alumni Bill Dowd for his insightful presentation in our Undergraduate Seminar Series! Remember to check out flyers, Facebook, and our calendar for upcoming events.


Welcome BackThe School of Natural Science and Mathematics welcomes everyone back from winter break! Let’s start out the New Year strong. Don’t miss out any opportunities this semester, stay active and always remember to check our School Calendar for the latest events and school related news. Please also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for upcoming events and constant coverage of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. 

JasonPictured is adjunct faculty member Jason Young, originally from Grand Rapids, MI, where he grew up gazing through a telescope year-round with his grandfather. He earned degrees in Physics and Astronomy with a minor in Latin at the University of Arizona, and a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State. Jason loves giving tours of the night sky, and has over 13 years of experience operating planetariums for public outreach programs. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and bicycling. 

Jason is now a principle investigator in collaborative efforts with three astronomers at various institutions (Penn State, Georgia State, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory) studying low surface brightness (LSB) galaxies. This class of galaxy is so faint that they are nearly invisible and have been missed by many sky surveys, even though Jason’s group is discovering that they are actually very numerous. His team is working to answer the question of why these galaxies have so few stars even though they are near twins to normal spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way in terms of size, mass, and gas content.

Jason adds, “It is our aim to shed light on the process of star formation in general through an understanding of why LSB galaxies have produced so few stars. To this end, our project examines a sample of LSB galaxies with the aims of determining a) how fast they are producing stars, b) where in these galaxies star formation is occurring, and c) how current star formation compares to star formation in the past.” 

To accomplish this, his team will have to compare model galaxies against brightness measurements made in the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared portions of the spectrum. Jason mentions, “We've carefully chosen targets for which archival infrared observations already exist, and we're in the process of making ultraviolet and optical observations.”

His team was awarded four nights last November 2013 and recently awarded three nights this December 17-19, 2014, to make the optical observations at the McDonald Observatory in Texas. They were also awarded time on the Swift space telescope to make the ultraviolet observations; these observations are now complete.  Jason feels confident that this campaign will likely result in at least four publications, or more depending on their findings.

Additionally, Jason’s team has just received word that their proposal for radio observations on the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia was accepted for spring of 2015. Radio telescopes are ideal for detecting molecular gas, which is a key step in the formation process of stars. They hope that through these observations they can learn at what step the process of star formation is arrested in LSB galaxies.  Jason and his team plan to publish a paper on their findings and, depending on what are detected, possible proposals for additional radio observations. Congratulations to Jason Young and his team and we wish them luck in the future! 


Alumni Lauren Sakowski graduated from the Mount in 2009 and is currently working on her PhD. in neuroscience at the University of Delaware. Ms. Sakowski is currently a graduate research assistant at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in the Department of Biomedical Research also works in the Neurogenetics Research Laboratory, characterizing a new mouse model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease and working on pre-clinical trials to treat inflammation. She has created a blog called NeurocultureBlog to review "recent publications in neuroscience, mainly neurodegenerative disesase, and grad school life." Read about her experience and new pressing issues by clicking the link below and checking out Lauren's blog! The School of Natural Science and Mathematics want to congratulate Lauren in her success and wish his luck in the future.


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