Kiranjyot (Jasmine) Gill, PhD candidate specializing in core-collapse supernovae gravitational wave astrophysics, is the youngest member of the LIGO-Virgo collaboration and was a part of a global team of scientists who helped discover the existence of gravitational waves, which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. Because of her contributions, she was named a co-recipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Princess of Asturias Award given by His Majesty the King of Spain, the UK Royal Astronomical Society 2017 Group Achievement Award in Astronomy, and the Bruno Rossi prize in High Energy Astrophysics from the American Astronomical Society. Jasmine is a co-author of more than 70 scientific publications with over 9000+ citations and has given over 30 invited talks at universities, government summits, and media conclaves.
Jasmine was also the founder of the “Navajo Nation College Readiness Program”, which is an outreach program continuing on it’s fifth year within the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. Combined, these are the largest Native American reservations in the country, with about 300,000 residents. The goal of this program is to benefit both students and high school teachers, providing them with new ways to gain exposure and develop mastery in STEM topics. She worked to develop an outreach in a way that is sensitive to the culture of specific native communities. For example, one important element of such an approach was developing close collaboration with the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the largest native American art museum in America. This interaction provided the opportunity to include elements within the program that rely on Native American art and culture, including facets of culture specific to individual tribes. One component of the curriculum uses triangles on different parts of native American shaped vases. The students then measure the sum of the internal angles to tell where there is either intrinsic or extrinsic curvature and relate that to general relativity. Another popular example is relating the turbulent motion of flames or the clouds in the sky to the turbulent motion of particles found in highly sophisticated core-collapse supernovae simulations. The Navajo Nation College Readiness Program also provides both educational material and practical information about the college preparation and application process as well as supportive tools to help them navigate all the component parts. This project aims to provide resources for the entire spectrum of high school students, from the 9th-12th grades, that can either be used as integrated or stand-alone tools. The program has so far been successful successful in increasing the number of native Americans enrolled in Arizona-based universities, which has a strategic location because many reservation residents prefer to attend colleges at driving distance from their families while they test the life and opportunities outside the reservation.