Sierra O'Bryan (Covington Latin) is graduating from Thomas More College as a double major with a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Mathematics. Despite the challenges of a physics and math degree, Sierra has excelled both academically and in her extra-curricular activities. Sierra has also participated heavily in a research program utilizing The Bank of Kentucky Observatory.
Sierra will be the outstanding senior for both the physics and mathematics programs this year, maintaining a GPA of >3.9. Sierra also received the outstanding junior award in the department and has appeared on the Thomas More Dean's List every year. Sierra entered Thomas More as the Chancellor's Scholarship representative from Covington Latin.
Displaying strong academic skills in math and physics is impressive in its own right, but Sierra has gone the extra mile with her performance in extra-curricular activities. She served as president of the Mathematics and Physics Club for two years and is currently serving as the treasurer of the Theta Phi Alpha Sorority. Sierra has also worked in the Math/Physics Tutoring Center since her sophomore year. During all four of her years at Thomas More, Sierra played varsity women's tennis, designated a PAC Athletic Scholar every year. Last but not least, Sierra is heavily involved with fundraising activities for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF). Sierra has been team captain of the "Sierra's Sisters" group since 2005. Both of Sierra's sisters have diabetes.
Sierra began a research project in astronomy in January 2012, funded via the Kentucky Space Grant Consortium. Her research utilizes the telescopes at The Bank of Kentucky Observatory to measure changes in brightness in eclipsing binary star systems. These data, along with observations from collaborators, have allowed Sierra to determine the mass, radii, and other properties of multiple star systems. As part of her research, Sierra travelled to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona to observe with the 72" Perkins Telescope and to Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland to meet with NASA researchers. She has presented her work twice at the Thomas More College Student Research Forum, at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences meeting, and will be presenting her final work at the American Astronomical Society in Indianapolis this summer. In addition to her work in astronomy, Sierra has also completed a project on soliton theory for her mathematics major.
Sierra plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in either physics or astronomy. She has been accepted to every school she applied, including The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, Ohio University, and Montana State University.