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Teacher Spotlight: Dr. Danielle Lucero


Dr. Danielle Lucero, a professor at Virginia Tech. Photo / Dr. Danielle Lucero
Dr. Danielle Lucero, a professor at Virginia Tech. Photo / Dr. Danielle Lucero

Who is Dr. Danielle Lucero?


Dr. Danielle Lucero began her teaching career in 2019 and had the opportunity to start teaching at Virginia Tech as a Collegiate Assistant Professor in August of 2021. At Virginia Tech, she has taught Modern Cosmology (PHYS-4654/5654G) and The Foundations of Physics (PHYS-2305). The Modern Cosmology course involves studying the origin of the Universe and The Foundations of Physics is a calculus-based, introductory physics class. In the future, Dr. Danielle Lucero plans on expanding her teaching to cover Integrated

Sciences I, The Physics of Galaxies, and a Black Holes elective course.


Education


Dr. Danielle Lucero received her BS in Physics, MS in Physics, and Ph.D. in Physics with a dissertation in Astrophysics, from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, which is also known as New Mexico Tech. In addition, the university also has various resources nearby such as, “the premiere radio telescope, the Very Large Array, and the National Radio Astronomical Observatory” (Lucero). This college is perfect for any student who is interested in exploring their interests and learning more about the radio astronomy field.



Her Research


In 2018, Dr. Danielle Lucero first came to Virginia Tech to work as a Research Scientist, and then she later became a professor. Dr. Danielle Lucero is passionate about her research and trying to learn about new concepts. Over the years, she has worked on numerous research projects. In regard to some of the research projects that she has conducted over the years, Dr. Lucero stated that it “aims to understand the cold gas content of early-type galaxies (lenticular, elliptical). I am interested in how early-types obtain their cold gas and how their neutral hydrogen physically transitions to the molecular phase (where all stars are born). Star formation in early types can change their morphologies over time slowly transforming them to look more disk-like. Detecting the cold gas in galaxies requires observations from radio telescopes. I have also been involved in the science commissioning of several radio telescopes including Aperture Tile in Focus (Apertif) telescope in the Netherlands and the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT-7) in South Africa. Very recently, I have become involved in Cosmology research. I am

part of a project that is using the LOFAR radio telescope to detect radio-synchrotron background radiation and determine its origin (Lucero).“


The projects I have available center around radio-interferometric observations of the radio continuum and neutral hydrogen in early-type galaxies - Lucero

Research Opportunities for Students


Dr. Danielle Lucero also has research opportunities available for students. She is currently overseeing 10 different undergraduate student research projects and has a

full set of students researching for the Spring semester. She works with students of various backgrounds such as CMDA and the Orion living-learning community. Virginia

Tech offers many different living-learning communities for students to join so that they can have the opportunity to explore their interests with other students. The Orion living-learning community consists of students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Science, and College of Natural Resources and Environment. For any students interested in researching, Dr. Danielle Lucero should hopefully have more spaces available to join research projects during the Fall semester of 2022. In regard to the projects she is currently supervising, she said “the projects I have available center around radio-interferometric observations of the radio continuum and neutral hydrogen in early-type galaxies” (Lucero). It is important for students to get involved with research because it can help them in the future to know more about their chosen field of interest or to gain new skills in general. By joining one of these research projects, students will be able to learn techniques to work with data concerning the basic principles of radio

astronomy.



Her Hobbies Outside of Teaching


One of Dr. Danielle Lucero’s interests besides research and being a professor is to go climbing. It is important to always try new things and “climbing is a fun and social way to stay in shape. It also appeals to me as a scientist because every climbing route is a fun problem to be solved. I recommend everyone try it at least once. I did and fell in love with it” (Lucero).


Especially at a college like Virginia Tech, there are plenty of opportunities to try new things. Whether it be a design team, recreational sports, hiking, or going to football games, the campus always has something new to offer students.


My favorite part about being a professor at Virginia Tech is being able to work one on one with undergraduate and graduate students on research projects. I have found VT students to be academically topnotch and a joy to work with” - Lucero

Why Virginia Tech?


When asked about her favorite part of being a professor at Virginia Tech, Dr. Danielle Lucero said, “My favorite part about being a professor at Virginia Tech is being able to work one on one with undergraduate and graduate students on research projects. I have found VT students to be academically topnotch and a joy to work with” (Lucero). At Virginia Tech, students are always striving for excellence and discovering new ways to be creative. It’s professors like Dr. Danielle Lucero who help students to continuously improve and explore their passions through research and her lessons in the classroom.


Football Game at Lane Stadium. Photo / Jolene Ghosh
Football Game at Lane Stadium. Photo / Jolene Ghosh




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