General Information

Applications for the majority of Scholarships and Awards administered by the SDSU Department of Astronomy are accepted from August to October during an academic year. Applications for the Mount Laguna Observatory Associates Scholarship are accepted through May. Please note that the requirements for the Service Awards and Scholarships are much different, and that the same essay should not be used if you are applying for both a Scholarship and a Service Award. The criteria employed by the faculty selection committee are given in detail in the appropriate Astronomy Department Web pages.

Applications are to be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships in SSW-3605. Applicants must attach a copy of their unofficial transcript available through the Office of the Registrar. Finalists may be interviewed. The office of Marketing and Communications may use information provided in the application for publicity purposes. Astronomy Department Scholarships and Awards will be announced in a departmental ceremony and newsletter.

NOTE: Students who are financial aid recipients may have their aid packages adjusted upon the receipt of a departmental award. Students who have not applied for financial aid will be required to file a Citizenship/Immigration form available on the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Web site.

Follow the links below for details on the application requirements for the individual scholarships and awards, and for the names of previous recipients. Applications are typically due on 15 October, with awards announced in November.

Astronomy Majors are encouraged to keep current with the Department Office their e-mail addresses, local mailing addresses, phone numbers for special announcements related to scholarships and awards and other activities.


 

The Scholarships

William F. Lucas / San Diego Astronomy Association Scholarship – up to $6,000 per student

The William F. Lucas Scholarship is open to SDSU Astronomy Undergraduate Majors in good academic standing with a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.70 who have completed at least 60 units of coursework, which includes Math 252 and Physics 197 (or their equivalents if a transfer student). The applicant must have completed at least one semester of courses at SDSU.

The William F. Lucas Scholarship is competitive in nature and based solely upon scholastic achievement. Applicants must write an essay of no more than 750 words about their interests in astronomy, their career plans, and the extent of their research activities within the SDSU Astronomy Department and at its Mount Laguna Observatory. Important measures of scholastic achievement are GPA, level of difficulty for completed courses, timely pace toward program completion, research activities in astronomy, presentation of scientific results at national or international meetings, and publication of scientific results in national or international scientific journals. Research efforts directed by SDSU faculty that result in scientific presentations or publications are given high weight.

William F. Lucas was a long time amateur astronomer in San Diego who taught telescope mirror making in Balboa Park to hundreds of other astronomy enthusiasts. Mr. Lucas was fascinated by astronomy, but was never able to go back to school to satisfy his dream of becoming a full-time professional astronomer. Because he was not able to attend college and study astronomy, he wanted to help others do so. Before his death, he endowed a scholarship fund to support serious student astronomers who love the skies as he did. As was his wish, the Lucas scholarship is based solely on academic performance.

For further information about William F. Lucas, his life, ambitions, and the two scholarships set up in his name at SDSU and The University of Arizona, follow this link to the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) web page.

 

Ruth and Clifford Smith Graduate Fellowship – up to $2,000

The Ruth and Clifford Smith Graduate Fellowship is open to SDSU Astronomy Graduate Students in good academic standing with a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 who have completed at least one semester of coursework at SDSU.

The Ruth and Clifford Smith Graduate Fellowship is competitive in nature and based solely upon scholastic achievement. Applicants must write an essay of no more than 750 words about their interests in astronomy, their career plans, and the extent of their research activities within the SDSU Astronomy Department and at its Mount Laguna Observatory. Important measures of scholastic achievement are GPA, level of difficulty for completed courses, timely pace toward program completion, research activities in astronomy, presentation of scientific results at national or international meetings, and publication of scientific results in national or international scientific journals. Research efforts directed by SDSU faculty that result in scientific presentations or publications are given high weight.

Dr. Clifford E. Smith established the Astronomy Program at San Diego State. Under his leadership, the Astronomy Program grew from an area of specialization in the Division of Physical Sciences to a full-fledged Department of Astronomy, operating Mount Laguna Observatory and offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. After thirty nine years of service to San Diego State, he retired in 1969. In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Smith was named Observatory Director Emeritus, and in 1971 the modernized 24-inch reflecting telescope at Mount Laguna was dedicated and named for him. Dr. Smith was proud of his role in developing the graduate astronomy program at San Diego State into one recognized nationally; he closely followed its growth after his retirement. He and his wife Ruth endowed this fellowship in their estate to assist students working toward an advanced degree in astronomy. The fellowship recipient will have done well in Astronomy and Physics graduate courses.

The Service Awards

Awona W. Harrington Award for Service – up to $1000

The Awona W. Harrington Award for Service is open to SDSU Astronomy Upper Division Undergraduate and Graduate Students in good academic standing. Upper Division Undergraduate Students must have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.00, and have completed at least one semester of courses at SDSU. Graduate Students must have a minumum GPA of 3.00, and have completed at least one semester of graduate courses at SDSU.

The Awona W. Harrington Award for Service is competitive in nature and primarily based upon service although professional promise and financial need may also be considered. Applicants must write an essay of no more than 750 words about their interests in astronomy, their career plans, and the extent of their service activities on behalf of the SDSU Astronomy Department and its Mount Laguna Observatory (MLO). (Graduate Students may also use the same essay for the Reginald F. Buller Award for Service). Volunteer activities are viewed most favorably. Such activities include significant participation in: Project ASTRO with public schools, Inner-Space/Outer Space open house for the SDSU College of Sciences, Future Aztec Day to recruit new students for SDSU, Science Olympiad to publicize SDSU to area high school students, unpaid hosting of other on-campus or MLO events, training and support of visiting astronomers, and miscellaneous volunteer services. Activities for pay, such as the MLO Public Viewing or School-Group Programs or on-campus Planetarium shows, although important and may be listed, do not fully embody the concept of service.

The Awona W. Harrington Fund was established in August, 1984, by friends of Awona, following her tragic death as the victim of a drunk driver. Her professional life was devoted to developing and enlarging San Diego State University Library’s excellent research collection in science and technology. Following her retirement as Science Librarian in 1980, Awona became a special volunteer, friend, and associate of the Astronomy Department and Mount Laguna Observatory. She established the position of Observatory Secretary, involving herself extensively, and with great energy and devotion, in Observatory administration and public relations. Awona was instrumental informing the Friends of Mount Laguna Observatory. It was Awona who first initiated Occasional Notes from Mount Laguna Observatory, which is now continued as the MLOA Newsletter.

Awona was a friendly, outgoing person, yet also quiet and self-effacing – a person of great warmth, generosity, and humor. She was a friend and confidant to our students and an esteemed colleague to the staff.

 

Reginald F. Buller Award for Service – up to $1000

The Reginald F. Buller Award for Service is open to SDSU Astronomy Graduate Students in good academic standing with a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 who have completed at least one semester of graduate course work at SDSU.

The Reginald F. Buller Award for Service is competitive in nature and primarily based upon service. Applicants must write an essay of no more than 750 words about their interests in astronomy, their career plans, and the extent of their service activities on behalf of the SDSU Astronomy Department and its Mount Laguna Observatory (MLO). (Graduate Students may also use the same essay for the Awona W. Harrington Award for Service). Volunteer activities are viewed most favorably. Such activities include significant participation in: Project ASTRO with public schools, Inner-Space/Outer Space open house for the SDSU College of Sciences, Future Aztec Day to recruit new students for SDSU, Science Olympiad to publicize SDSU to area high school students, unpaid hosting of other on-campus or MLO events, training and support of visiting astronomers, and miscellaneous volunteer services. Activities for pay, such as the MLO Public Viewing or School-Group Programs or on-campus Planetarium shows, although important and may be listed, do not fully embody the concept of service. The Mount Laguna Observatory Associates Board will approve the final selection.

In June 2002, Betty Buller Whitehead, daughter of the late Reginald F. Buller, endowed this award to celebrate her father’s life and his service to SDSU’s Mount Laguna Observatory. The Reginald F. Buller Award for Service replaces and expands the earlier Mount Laguna Observatory Associates (MLOA) Service Award, which was not endowed. However, the MLOA Board has elected to make regular contributions to the endowment or actual award in an effort to raise the level of support for the students. Individual MLOA members are also encouraged to make contributions in the memory of Reg Buller. Reg was the founding president of the MLOA, an organization that supports the scientific and educational programs of the observatory. He was by trade an industrial chemist with B.S. from the University of Illinois and a Master’s from Stanford University. However, Reg was an avid life-long amateur astronomer with a passion for visual observation and public outreach and service in astronomy. Faculty and students remember him for his grace, dignity, warmth, and contagious grin. In addition to being an influential charter member of the MLOA, Reg donated two of his personal telescopes to SDSU in 1988. Thousands of people enjoy the view through these telescopes annually. At MLO, the 21-inch Buller Reflecting Telescope is the centerpiece of our Summer Visitor’s Program sponsored jointly with the United States Forest Service. SDSU students use this telescope and the 12-inch Buller Telescope on campus for introductory Astronomy classes and labs.

 


Astronomy Department Scholarship & Award Funds

To help increase our scholarship activity, contributions may be sent to:

Astronomy Department Scholarship & Award Funds
c/o Department of Astronomy
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-1221

Please write checks to The Campanile Foundation with an on-check memo for the scholarship or award of your choice. All contributions are tax deductible, and will be acknowledged by mail from The Campanile Foundation.


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