At Stars group meeting, Jo Bovy (Toronto) demonstrated to us that the red-giant branch in Gaia DR1 TGAS is populated about how you would expect from a simple star-formation history and stellar evolution tracks. This was surprising to me: The red clump is extremely prominent. This project involved building an approximate selection function for TGAS, which he has done, and released open-source!
John Brewer (Yale) showed relationships he has found between planet-system architectures and stellar chemical abundances. He cleverly designed complete samples of different kinds of planetary systems to make comparisons on a reasonable basis. He doesn't have a causal explanation or causal inference of what he is finding. But there are some very strong covariances of chemical-abundance ratios with system architectures. This makes me more excited than ever to come up with some kind of general description or parameterization of a bound few-body system that is good for inference.
I spent the afternoon at CIS 303, a middle school in the Bronx, as part of their Career and College Day. This is an opportunity for middle schoolers to discuss with people with a huge range of careers and backgrounds what they do and how they got there. So much fun. I also ran into Michael Blanton (NYU) at the event!