Astronomy Scholars Program

Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion 

The Berkeley Astronomy Department is committed to increasing the diversity and improving the climate in our Department and the broader astronomy community. For more information about our Departmental initiatives please visit

For more information, visit UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity page and Berkeley’s strategic plan for Excellence Equity and Inclusion

Astrophysics Scholars Program Overview

The Department of Astronomy is excited to introduce our Astrophysics Scholars Program which aims to provide an inclusive learning environment reflecting the world around us. This program has been thoughtfully curated to recruit, retain and support students who are historically underrepresented in our community. We are committed to promoting diversity, creating opportunities for engagement, and making Astrophysics achievable for all students. Our mission is to ensure that every student has access to the support, resources, and other available tools to succeed as an Astrophysics major here at UC Berkeley. While the current demographic consists of high potential students seeking to give back to their community, the program prioritizes underrepresented minorities, low-income, first generation college and LGBTQ students. 

Program Objectives

  • Succeed in academic coursework by establishing effective learning and study habits.
  • Develop necessary networking skills to secure meaningful research opportunities and similar experiences.
  • Build “social capital”- establish connections with experts in the field including faculty, course instructors, graduate instructors, post-docs and graduate students.
  • Demonstrate the ability to make sound decisions concerning degree and career goals.
  • Realize the importance of mental health wellbeing and have awareness of campus resources.
  • Develop confidence to take initiative and seek academic advice and support.


All students in need of academic support are eligible. When resources are limited, we will prioritize and be inclusive of BIPOC’s, low-income, first generation college and LGBTQ students. 

  1. Incoming freshman pursuing a degree in Astrophysics or Physics
  2. Enrolled in Physics 7A, Physics 7B and/or Math 1A or Math 1B

Application process

Our application deadline is September 1st, 2019. Please fill out the following application survey 2019-20 Astro Scholars Program Application.  For more information about the process, please email

Supported Courses

Math 1A, Math 1B, Physics 7A, Physics 7B, Math 53, Physics 89, Physics 77, Data 8, Astro 7A, Astro 7B, Astro 160, Physics 137A, Physics 110A and Physics 105


Students accepted into the program will participate in activities in four areas: academics, research and career, community and other


Research and Career



-Weekly 1 hour tutoring


-Weekly 1 hour TALC sessions (homework and study sessions)












-In Year 1, enroll in Astro 98 ULAB (Undergraduate Research in Physics and Astrophysics)


-In Year 2, enroll in the Python Decal


-Monthly check-in’s Graduate or Post-Doc mentor


-Regular attendance to 3 Success After Berkeley workshops per semester. See Event Schedule

-Weekly check-in’s with your Astro buddy


-Join and attend once per semester UAS (Undergraduate Astronomy Society) social club


-Attend once per semester Faculty-Student Welcome Lunch





-Monthly check-in’s with an Astrophysics Academic Advisor: Amber Banayat















We offer a number of workshops including our Success After Berkeley series. We have career planning and graduate admissions lectures, presentations, panels and training. Our students are also encouraged to attend the Department of Astronomy events, seminars, Colloquiums and lunch talks. Visit our events page  or our Calendar of EventsWe also advertise our events on our Piazza, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and list.   

Students interacting at events

Meet Our Scholars

2020 Scholars

  • Abel Castaneda
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2024
  • Adan Lopez Calderon
    EECS, EGT Spring 2023
  • Ameia Smith
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2024
  • Edward Wolfe
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2022
  • Victor Cruz
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2024

2019 Scholars

  • Alexis Andersen
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2023
  • Alondra Martinez
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2022
  • Angelo Punzalan
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2023
  • Christian Ramos
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2023
  • Ishani Cheshire
    intended Astro, EGT Spring 2023
  • Jesus Martinez Martinez
    Astrophysics, EGT Spring 2022
  • Lawrence Edmond IV
    Astrophysics, EGT Spring 2021

2020 Tutors and Mentors

Andrea Antoni 
Third Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Hydrodynamics (convection, accretion, waves, winds), Late-stage evolution of massive stars, Assembly of compact remnants in close binary systems

Aliza Beverage 
Second Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research interest(s): The formation and assembly histories of massive quiescent galaxies using ultra-deep continuum spectroscopy. 

Nick Choksi 
Second Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research Interest(s): Chondrule formation, Planet formation & dynamics, Formation and evolution of star clusters.

Tyler Cox 
First Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Cosmology, Galaxy Formation and Evolution. 

Joe DeRose 
Second Year Postdoctoral Researcher
Research Interest(s): Simulations of Structure Formation of the Universe via Modern Galaxy Surveys.

Kiran Eiden 
First Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research Interest(s): Nuclear Astrophysics: Dynamics and Development of Thermonuclear Vortices.

Simone Ferraro 
Staff Researcher
Research Interest(s): Physics of the Early Universe and the Nature of Dark Matter/Dark Energy and the Properties of Neutrinos.

Hannah Gulick 
First Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research Interest(s): Astronomical Instrumentation and Observation.

Quoc Ho
First Year Mechanical Engineering MS Candidate ‘21
Research Interest(s): Mechanical design, Heat Transfer, Finite Element Analysis, Computer Aided Design/Engineering.

Eric Ibarra 
Fourth Year Mechanical Engineering PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Fluid Dynamics 

Philipp Kempski 
Third Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research Interest(s): Cosmic Rays: Confinement, Propagation & Feedback, Weakly Collisional & Collisionless Astrophysical Plasmas, Turbulence in Accretion Flows

Chris Moeckel 
Fourth Year Earth & Planetary Sciences PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Atmospheric Science, Space Exploration, and Instrument Development. 

Massimo Pascale 
First Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Cosmology and High Redshift Astronomy

Kishore Patra
Second Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate 
Research Interest(s): Spectropolarimetry of Supernovae. 

Sam Rose
Fourth Year Astrophysics Bachelor’s Candidate 
Research Interest(s): 

Nathan Sandford 
Fourth Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Galactic Archeology, Galactic Chemical Evolution, Near-field cosmology; Galaxy Formation & Evolution, Stellar Feedback/Yields; Stellar Spectroscopy, Neural Networks

Ken Shen 
Staff Researcher
Research Interest(s): White Dwarf Physics in Binary Systems: Theoretical Models of Thermonuclear Supernovae.

Erika Strasburger 
First Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Broadly in observational astronomy, but specifically “transients”— fast-evolving astronomical phenomena.

James Sullivan 
Third Year Astrophysics PhD Candidate
Research Interest(s): Cosmology – specifically on small-scale modeling for modern galaxy surveys


Student Success Stories 


“It was helpful and increased by ability to critically think about why I was confused to better assist me in the future when tutoring or going to office hours”

“Absolutely amazing, my tutor does a good job at teaching astro topics to help build up a more solid conceptual understanding. He clearly explains how to apply math to this new understanding to help me tackle problems inside and outside of my coursework.”

“Fun! I enjoy attending tutoring and it’s very helpful. I am a shy person so I appreciate that my tutor gets me to ask questions on things I didn’t know to ask.”

“It was extremely helpful, I learned a lot. It vastly improved my confidence and helped me understand Physics concepts.”

“Access to tutoring  gave me many skills which I was able to use to work out problems more effectively, and often gave me support to do much better than I expected to on exams.”


“My experience with them has been fantastic! I feel like I have learned so much from them and am very thankful to get their perspective on things! Not only that, but I still have so many questions to ask them still!”

“My mentor is very approachable and, most importantly, very straight-forward and realistic, which is what I have been looking for.”

“My mentor really closed that knowledge gap I had about grad school and even provided a lot of advice on how to make the experience a lot more affordable and attainable.”

“Very comfortable, I wasn’t afraid to ask them questions and I could talk to them about anything”


“Amber was extremely helpful in solving many scheduling or academic issues I faced as a first-year. She is the reason why I was able to find the right course path during my first semester.”

“Amber helped me tremendously. She kept pushing for me to succeed by pushing me to find study groups and giving me some organization advice for my workload. This organization advice still serves me to this day. She has been a great help for my integration and success in the Astro Department”

“Very informative for classes that I should be taking and things that I should be doing outside of my academics to better prepare me for possible future plans like research or grad schools.”

Community and Events 

“The Astro community seems to be very accepting and welcoming, which helps as I run on positive reinforcement”

“Helped my integration into the astro community and understood the mechanisms of the department. Made me feel more like I belonged.”

“The department events helped me a lot to make friends and study groups within the Astro community. The buddy program did not have a huge effect.”

“The research workshop was incredibly helpful because research is often something that doesn’t have many resources for undergrads as to how to get involved. The stress management workshop was also invaluable in helping me work through emotions that I did not feel prepared to handle.”


Facts and Figures

**Coming shortly**