The Small Telescopes and Astronomical Research (STAR) Conference that Lander University recently hosted “went really well,” according to Lander Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Lisa Brodhacker, who helped to organize the event.
The conference, which Lander hosted for the first time ever, highlighted recent developments in astronomical and small-telescope research, including the research that Brodhacker and her students are doing to perfect epoxy telescope mirrors.
Brodhacker, who spoke on “Spin-Cast Epoxy Mirrors,” said she was proud of Betsy Gibson, a senior chemistry major from Lexington, who spoke on “Using Reactive Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxanes to Reduce the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion of Epoxy Telescope Mirrors,” and Brenda Kapingidza, a senior chemistry major from Zimbabwe, who spoke on “Synthesis and Polymerization of a New POSS-azobenzene Side Chain Derivative for Ultra-Lightweight Photonic Muscle Space Telescopes.”
Brodhacker said that Gibson and Kapingidza “represented us well, really knew their information and interacted well with the professional scientists who were here. The attendees were impressed at the level of their research and knowledge.”
The participants included Dirk Terrell, from Southwest Research Institute, who has an asteroid named after him.
Astronomer Russ Genet, who gave the keynote address, “Discovery of the Cosmos,” said that the astronomical community is “very excited” about Brodhacker’s research. Her quest to produce a mirror that’s lighter, more durable and less expensive than its glass counterpart, he said, is “very, very close” to success.