Dr. James “JD” Armstrong, the enthusiastic Maui Technology Education and Outreach Specialist at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy (IfA) in Pukalani, is much admired in the community. His work includes research on exoplanets, asteroids, comets, stellar objects, double stars, besides monthly public talks at IfA. “A highlight of my job is mentoring students and assisting with their science projects,” said Armstrong, who manages UH’s time on the Faulkes Telescope North (FTN) atop Haleakala. Owned and operated by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network, FTN offers students live views of outer space streamed straight to their computers. “Students remotely observe the sky as it is seen from different parts of the earth via the telescope network,” Armstrong explained. “Using Astrometrica, a software tool that calculates precise positions of the celestial bodies, they are able to analyze the collected image data.”
“JD’s Hawaii Student/Teacher Astronomy Research (HI STAR) summer science program for high school students is unsurpassed, as evidenced by the success of the students,” said Dr. Joe Janni, former Director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. “He is a dedicated and enthusiastic mentor who counsels and motivates young astronomers to achieve high honors and numerous awards. His ability to inspire and recognize their potential is unmatched.”
“Armstrong has been a partner of Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) for over 10 years,” said Mapu Quitazol, MEDB project manager. “Recently he has had students receiving recognition for their science projects. In March at the Hawaii State Science and Engineering Fair, Armstrong’s HI STAR students captured numerous awards.”
“I’ve been very fortunate to have Dr. Armstrong as my mentor for the last five years,” said Celeste Jongeneelen, home-schooled 10th grader and 2016 first-place Physics and Astronomy winner. “He’s encouraged my interest in hypervelocity stars; stars thought to originate when a binary system encounters the supermassive black hole in our Milky Way. Dr. Armstrong has motivated me to better understand the age and classification of these stars. He has given me the confidence to think that I could actually discover something new about the Universe!”
Astronomy is a great way to spread interest in all subjects and motivate learners to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to better comprehend the world around us.
Dr. JD Armstrong, Maui Technology and Education Outreach Specialist, University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy