James Marshall's Education

High School

The end of my required education was high school. I attended the local public high school where I grew up, Raritan High School. I took a fairly standard set of courses in the college preparation sequence, plus some Advanced Placement classes, and was the valedictorian (first in the class) of my graduating class. I then went on to college planning to study science, specifically physics and astronomy. Before that though, I'd like to note that in 2008, I was honored with an induction into Raritan High School's Academic/Scholastic Hall of Fame (which distinguishes it from their athletic hall of fame), and was also the youngest member to be inducted as of that date.

College / University

I chose to attend Villanova University for college, and ended up graduating summa cum laude (with highest honors) with a B.S. degree in astronomy and astrophysics and a minor in physics. For more info on the departments, check out the V.U. astronomy or V.U. physics home pages. I was part of the Villanova Astronomical Society (VAS) while an undergraduate student. I was also inducted into three honor societies at Villanova -- Sigma Pi Sigma for physics, Phi Kappa Phi, a universal one (i.e., all fields of study are included), and Phi Beta Kappa for the arts and sciences. You can find out some more about each of these societies by going to my honor society description page and get even more details at my original, longer honor society information page. I also joined the Nova Network, the online community of the Villanova Alumni Association.

The astronomy program at Villanova is excellent and allowed me to gain practical research experience. My work included the study of a supernova (SN 1993J), binary stars as tests of general relativity (DI Herculis, V541 Cygni, and V1143 Cygni), and my undergrad senior research project which involved flare stars (HD 1405, HD 220140, and HD 17925). I was also able to publish some of my work in the first two areas, all of that work being done under Dr. Edward Guinan. I also assisted a professor on an observing run at Kitt Peak and participated in an observing run at IUE headquarters with one of my professors. All of this experience helped prepare me for graduate school and the research required for a Ph.D.

Graduate School

I went to graduate school at the University of Maryland (in College Park) for astronomy. My first few years were spent primarily taking required classes in astronomy and physics, while working as a teaching assistant for introductory astronomy courses. During my second year, I worked on a theoretical project with Dr. Eve Ostriker on the modeling of stars in young clusters (primarily for the Orion Nebula Cluster), studying their dynamics with N-body simulations, and trying to figure out how they form and evolve and of course if the theoretical calculations match the observations available. Upon successful completion of my course work, second year research project, and passing the Ph.D. qualifying exam, I earned a non-thesis M.S. degree in astronomy. Naturally, they also have a UMD Alumni Association.

After passing into Ph.D. candidacy, I began working with Dr. Stacy McGaugh on a survey of very low surface brightness (LSB) galaxies. The observations were made before I started on the project, so my job was to reduce, calibrate, and analyze the data. The detection of LSB galaxies was the main goal, creating a catalog of objects that can be used to plan follow-up observations and future studies. For the science, we mainly studied the surface brightness distribution and performed the necessary corrections to turn the observed distribution into the intrinsic one. We've also looked at relationships between certain galaxy properties and examined how our observations compare with previous work. When the work was complete, I did the standard dissertation defense, and was awarded my Ph.D. in astronomy upon successful completion of this process. However, due to how things worked out after graduation, I never published the work in an astronomy journal. If you would like to see my dissertation, you can order my dissertation from the publisher (Proquest) for which I will earn royalties, or download my dissertation in PDF from my university's digital repository. (Note: as of March 28, 2016, the download counter is not displaying downloads prior to June 2014; the actual count as of that date should be somewhere around 350, give or take a bit. They expect to correct the counter at some point in the future.) If you're mainly interested in the catalog of objects and their basic properties, you can find them in Appendix C of my dissertation, the VLSBG catalog, which I have placed online. Also, I would appreciate knowing if you get a copy of my work, especially if you cite it in any of your publications. Thank you.

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