Texas Tech University

Megan Cuevas to Begin Ph.D. Program with Two Coveted Scholarships

TTU entering Ph.D. student Megan Cuevas

Astrophysics Student Just Earned Her Bachelor's in Physics

7.11.2022 | Toni Salama

Megan Cuevas spent a good bit of her childhood among the stars. As she and her mother looked up into the night sky, Cuevas would invent fanciful “space facts.”

Today, Cuevas stands ready to enter Texas Tech University's Ph.D. program in astrophysics. And while she still fancies space, she has left childhood inventions behind. Now she's after the data.

The journey ahead for this Lufkin, Texas, native is paved with two coveted scholarships. Cuevas is a recipient of the four-year Helen DeVitt Jones Graduate Fellowship, backed by the Helen Jones Endowed Graduate Fellowship Fund through the College of Arts & Sciences. She also is a recipient of the 2022-2023 STEM Columbia Crew Memorial Scholarship from the Texas Space Grant Consortium.

“My end goal in pursuing graduate studies is to further my knowledge to become proficient in astrophysics and a skilled researcher. I strive to challenge myself and learn constantly; thus, a Ph.D. program is a natural next step,” Cuevas said. “These scholarships provide security and encouragement to progress to this next challenge in my academic career.”

Cuevas earned her bachelor's in physics, with a concentration in astrophysics, here at Texas Tech. In 2021, she began working in the Department of Physics & Astronomy as a research assistant for Thomas Kupfer, an assistant professor of astrophysics whose research focuses on late stellar binary evolution, strong gravitational wave sources, supernova Ia progenitors, and time-domain surveys.

“I have been very grateful for his mentorship along with other physics professors for guiding me along the path that I find myself on,” Cuevas said. “Dr. Kupfer has provided countless recommendation letters on my behalf, and he has brought opportunities to my attention that I had never considered before.”

She also credits the TTU members of Women in Physics and the Society of Physics Students as motivators for her academic pursuits.

“These groups have given me a sense of community within the Physics & Astronomy department,” she said, “and have made the journey through an astrophysics degree more fun.”

Their encouragement led Cuevas to serve as president of the TTU chapter of Women in Physics during her senior year as an undergrad (2021-2022). She saw her leadership role as an opportunity to influence incoming physics students.

And speaking of influence, Cuevas still joins her mother in studying the heavens. But things are a little different these days.

“Now when we stargaze together, I get to teach her real space facts,” Cuevas said.

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