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MY TEACHING

Formation of young leaders with and through science

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LECTURING &
COURSE TEACHING

Highlighting the connections between fundamental astronomy, experimental astrophysics, and stellar structure and evolution.

MENTORING & SUPERVISION OF STUDENTS

Formation through and with science. My aim is to bring out the best of every young colleague.

SIGNATURE PROJECTS IN TEACING

Creating resources to efficiently teach science and ensuring equity and inclusion in modern academia.

The most critical aspect of my teaching approach is to convey the broad context and main concepts of scientific research. My lecturing and supervision style aims to foster problem awareness, connected thinking, and independent working style. Based on my experience as a researcher, this standard requires me to highlight and explain the connection between diverse courses composing the entire curriculum.


As a matter of fact, stars are distant objects which we hardly can resolve spatially. Understanding how experimental astrophysics investigates such objects requires a profound knowledge of optics, observational techniques, and data reduction. Applying these concepts demands comprehension of the complex theoretical constructs that describe the stellar evolution and structure to see how such measurements fit a model. These connections are challenging to make for students who are new to a field and require expert guiding. I am committed to mentoring students on their first steps of this exciting journey of becoming a scientist.

Praxis relevance drives the students’ learning. Therefore, the learning goals of my courses are aligned with the required competence profile and skill set of an aspiring researcher. The cognitive levels of my courses and exams are guided by Bloom’s taxonomy. In the courses, I create opportunities to use the taught material in new situations in practical exercises and laboratory work.

In my teaching as well as research, I am committed to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented groups. Herefore, I am engaged in the freshmen orientation tutorial, a newly formed lecture format to ensure a smooth start for first-gen students into their studies.

 

ACADEMIC TEACHING EXPERIENCE

At the University of Graz, Austria [official teaching record in Univ.Graz Online]

Between summer semesters of 2019 and 2022, I have been lecturing more than 400hrs (24 courses, ~70 ECTS, 4-7 hrs/week) in in-personam, virtual, and asynchronous settings. Courses in the master's curriculum are taught in English, while courses in the bachelor's curriculum are held in German. I prepared 11 university courses from scratch on theoretical and observational stellar astrophysics. The results of anonymous student evaluation, obtained at the end of each semester as well as my didactic training certificates are available upon request.

STELLAR STRUCTURE

& EVOLUTION

Lecture (PHM.100UB) &
Exercise (PHM.101UB)

  • Mandatory lecture in the curriculum of the Master in Astrophysics
    3 hrs/week, 6 ECTS, in English, Beck (100%),​

  • Mandatory exercises in the curriculum of the Master in Astrophysics
    1 hrs/week, 2 ECTS, in English, Beck (100%),

ASTEROSEISMOLOGY
& VARIABLE STARS

Lecture (PHM.803UB)

  • Elective course in the module module: ‘Further Lectures on selected astrophysical topics’, Master's Curriculum, 
    2 hrs/week, 3 ECTS, in English, Beck (100%)

SCIENTIFIC WORKING

& PRESENTATION TECHNIQUES

Seminar (PHY.L03UB)

  • Mandatory course in the curriculum for the Bachelor's in Physics,
    (original German Title: Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten und Präsentationstechnik)
    2 hrs/week, 2 ECTS, in German, Beck (100%)

BACHELOR'S THESIS

SEMINAR

Research Seminar 
(PHY.I20_6UB, PHY.M01_6UB)

DATA ANALYSIS IN ASTROPHYSICS

Lecture (PHM.013UB) &
Exercise (PHM.014UB)

INSTRUMENTATION
& OBSERVING

TECHNIQUES IN ASTROPHYSICS

  • Mandatory lecture in the curriculum of the Master in Astrophysics
    2 hrs/week, 3 ECTS, in English, Temmer (50%) & Beck (50%)

Lecture (PHM.110UB)

ASTROPHYSICAL LAB (BASIC)

Lab (PHM.111UB)

  • Mandatory course in the curriculum for the Bachelor's in Physics (content: basic training in telescope handling and CCD data reduction for differential photometry)
    2 hrs/week, 3 ECTS, in German, Temmer (50%) & Beck (50%)​

ASTROPHYSICAL LAB (ADVANCED)

Lab (PHM.115UB)

  • Mandatory course in the curriculum for the Bachelor's in Physics (content: advanced training in telescope handling and CCD data reduction for spectroscopy)
    2 hrs/week, 3 ECTS, in German, Temmer (50%) & Beck (50%)​

EINFÜHRUNG IN DIE ASTRONOMIE & ASTROPHYSIK

Exercise (PHY.K40UB)

  • Elective course in the curriculum for the Bachelor's in Physics (content: first course to start specialization towards a master's in Astrophysics). 
    2 groups x 1 hrs/week, 1.5 ECTS, in German, Veronig (50%) & Beck (50%)

 
 

INVITED TEACHING

August 7 - 16, 2020

SUMMER SCHOOL

Erasmus+ Virtual Summer school: [school's webpage]

"GAIA & TESS: Tools for understanding of the Local Universe"

Tutor and project leader, Project results were published by Merc et al. (2021)

December 4 - 6, 2019

BLOCK LECTURE

INOLEC Lectures (10hrs), Invited lecture at the University of Brno, Czech Republic

"Asteroseismology and variable stars"

June 19, 2019

SUMMER SCHOOL

Invited lecture (2hrs) about Data analysis in Astronomy at the lower Austrian high achievers summer school (Semmering, Austria).

 

EXPERIENCE AS TUTOR

Having served as a Universitätstutor/in since 2000, I am experienced with creating a nurturing, motivating, and stimulating learning environment for each and every one of my students. Check out my qualifications and relevant work experience below, and get in touch to start unlocking your fullest potential.

LEUVEN
UNIVERSITY,
BELGIUM

Asteroseismology, held by Prof. Dr. Conny Aerts, University of Leuven, Master’s curriculum, 6 ECTS (full course)

  • Winter semester of 2012: 15 students

Research Projects Astronomy,
Master’s curriculum (1st year), 3 ECTS (full course), Leuven University

  • Winter sem. 2011, ‘Rotation in red-giant stars’

  • Winter sem. 2012, ‘Rotation in a red-giant binary star’


Research projects Physics, Bachelor’s cur. (3rd year), 1-2 students, 9 ECTS (full course)

  • 2012, Winter semester, ‘Seismology of red-giant stars’ (equivalent 4 ECTS)

VIENNA
UNIVERSITY,
AUSTRIA

Introduction to Astronomy 1, (lecture, #280049, Einführung in die Astronomie I) 6 ECTS, in German, ~80-100 students, mandatory course in Bachelor’s curriculum, University of Vienna, Prof. Dr. Michel Breger & Prof. Dr. Ernst Dorfi,

  • Winter semester of 2007/08: ~80-100 students

  • Winter semester of 2006/07: ~80-100 students

  • Winter semester of 2005/06: ~80-100 students

Astronomical Instrumentation 2, (lecture, #280157, Astronomische Instrumente II) held by Prof. Dr. Michel Breger, Prof. Dr. Werner W. Weiss, Prof. Dr. Franz Kerschbaum, (6 ECTS, ~30 students) University of Vienna, Master’s curriculum,

  • Summer semester of 2008: 50 students​​


 

SUPERVISION OF STUDENT THESES

I completed supervising & mentoring 3 master’s & 11 bachelor’s theses.  For reasons of privacy of the students only the title and the year of the thesis are published on this website, unless results were published.

PUBLISHED
RESULTS

  1. Asteroseismology of the heartbeat star KIC 5006817
    Result of ERASMUS+ summer school 2020
    Contributions of the Astronomical Observatory Skalnaté Pleso, vol. 51, no. 1, p. 45-57.
    Merc, J.; Kalup, Cs.; Rathour, R. S.; Sánchez Arias, J. P.; Beck, P.

    This paper summarizes the project work on asteroseismology at the ERASMUS+ GATE 2020 Summer school on space satellite data. The aim was to do a global asteroseismic analysis of KIC 5006817, and quantify its stellar properties using the high-quality, state of the art space missions data. We employed the aperture photometry to analyze the data from the Kepler space telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Using the lightkurve Python package, we have derived the asteroseismic parameters and calculated the stellar parameters using the scaling relations. Our analysis of KIC 5006817 confirmed its classification as a heartbeat binary. The rich oscillation spectrum facilitate estimating power excess (νmax) at 145.50±0.50 μHz and large frequency separation (Δν) to be 11.63±0.10 μHz. Our results showed that the primary component is a low-luminosity, red-giant branch star with a mass, radius, surface gravity and luminosity of 1.53±0.07 M⊙, 5.91±0.12 R⊙, 3.08±0.01 dex, and 19.66±0.73 L⊙, respectively. The orbital period of the system is 94.83±0.05 d.

  2. KIC 9163796 - a benchmark binary for age determination
    Student Poster contribution
    Proceedings of the conference Stars and their Variability Observed from Space, held in Vienna on August 19-23, 2019. Eds.: C. Neiner, W. W. Weiss, D. Baade, R. E. Griffin, C. C. Lovekin, A. F. J. Moffat. University of Vienna, 2020, pp.351-352
    Grossmann, D. H.; Beck, P. G.; Hanslmeier, A.

    Binary systems constitute a valuable tool in astrophysics for gaining a deeper understanding of stellar evolution and determining stellar ages. That is particularly true for the double-lined binary KIC 9163796, which has a mass ratio of almost unity but varies significantly in temperature, luminosity and Lithium abundance. This paper outlined our approach to generate a combined stellar model for it using the MESA stellar-evolution code. By combining the available observational data with the models we derived, we aimed to find the best-fitting models for both components and to extrapolate the system's age from them.

  3. Testing the asymptotic relation for period spacings from mixed modes of red giants observed with the Kepler mission
    Published form of a diploma theses co-supervised by me
    Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 588, id.A82, 14 pp (2016).
    Buysschaert, B.; Beck, P. G.; Corsaro, E.; Christensen-Dalsgaard, J.; Aerts, C.; Arentoft, T.; Kjeldsen, H.; García, R. A.; Silva Aguirre, V.; Degroote, P.

    Context. Dipole mixed pulsation modes of consecutive radial order have been detected for thousands of low-mass red-giant stars with the NASA space telescope Kepler. These modes have the potential to reveal information on the physics of the deep stellar interior.
    Aims: Different methods have been proposed to derive an observed value for the gravity-mode period spacing, the most prominent one relying on a relation derived from asymptotic pulsation theory applied to the gravity-mode character of the mixed modes. Our aim is to compare results based on this asymptotic relation with those derived from an empirical approach for three pulsating red-giant stars.
    Methods: We developed a data-driven method to perform frequency extraction and mode identification. Next, we used the identified dipole mixed modes to determine the gravity-mode period spacing by means of an empirical method and by means of the asymptotic relation. In our methodology we consider the phase offset, ɛg, of the asymptotic relation as a free parameter.
    Results: Using the frequencies of the identified dipole mixed modes for each star in the sample, we derived a value for the gravity-mode period spacing using the two different methods. These values differ by less than 5%. The average precision we achieved for the period spacing derived from the asymptotic relation is better than 1%, while that of our data-driven approach is 3%.
    Conclusions: Good agreement is found between values for the period spacing derived from the asymptotic relation and from the empirical method. The achieved uncertainties are small, but do not support the ultra-high precision claimed in the literature. The precision from our data-driven method is mostly affected by the differing number of observed dipole mixed modes. For the asymptotic relation, the phase offset, ɛg, remains ill defined, but enables a more robust analysis of both the asymptotic period spacing and the dimensionless coupling factor. However, its estimation might still offer a valuable observational diagnostic for future theoretical modeling.

MASTER's & DIPLOMA THESES

  1. Gyrochronology - modelling the spin down of a solar-like main sequence star with MESA 
    (2022, Graz University)

  2. Asteroseismic frequency analysis of red-giant stars using Gaussian processes
    (2021, Graz University)

  3. Testing the asymptotic relation for period spacings from mixed modes of red giants observed with the Kepler mission
    (2015, Leuven University)
    Published as: Buysschaert, Beck, et al, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 588, id.A82, 14 pp (2016). 

BACHELOR'S THESES

  1. Red giant binaries as seen from TESS and Kepler – A comparison of TESS and Kepler
    (2022, Graz University)

  2. Photometric data from TESS and BRITE – A comparison based on binary systems
    (2022, Graz University)

  3. CCD Data reduction – Development of the data reduction pipeline of differential photometry at the Lustbühel Observatory Graz
    (2022, Graz University)

  4. Modelling of the eclipsing binary  lightcurves of Algol and KIC5006817 with Phoebe2 
    (2021, Graz University)

  5. Modelling the Luminosity of the tip of the red-giant branch with MESA 
    (2021, Graz University)

  6. Building an educational package for high-school pupils: spectroscopy 
    (2021, Graz University)

  7. Age determination for solar-analogue stars through asteroseismic grid modelling
    (2021, Graz University)

  8. Investigatin the distribution of exoplanet host stars along the red-giant branch - Semisupervised clustering with Gaussian mixture modelling using seeds and constraints
    (2021, Graz University)

  9. Modelling the effects of stellar tides in binary systems with MESA 
    (2021, Graz University)

  10. Automatic observation planning for ground-based follow-up photometry for TESS exoplanet candidates at the Lustbühel Observatory 
    (2020, Graz University)

  11. Asteroseismology of the red-giant triple-system KIC2697935 
    (2017, Graz University; consisting as visiting scholar affiliated with the IAC)

  12. Asteroseismology of the red-giant binary-system KIC10614012 
    (2017, Graz University; consisting as visiting scholar affiliated with the IAC)

  13. Asteroseismology of the red-giant binary-system KIC5006817 
    (2017, Graz University;  consisting as visiting scholar affiliated with the IAC)

  14. Asteroseismology of red-giant stars
    (2013, Leuven University)

 
 
 

MY SIGNATURE PROJECTS

Creating resources to efficiently teach the requirements of science

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LATEX THESIS TEMPLATE

Scientific writing is a challenging skill to hone, on a student's path of becoming a scientist. Therefore, my students and I have created a thesis template in LaTeX, combining the editorial standard of Astronomy & Astrophysics, the European workhorse journal for astrophysical research, and the corporate design of Graz University. To provide the students with guidelines on the intricacies of scientific writing, I provided a concise summary.