Skills Database

Want to partition your hard drive and have dual boot operating systems? Want to figure out why your code is giving you that pesky seg fault? Need recommendations for good hiking spots? Who you gonna call?? Here are your answers (HINT: it’s not the ghostbusters)!

Academic Skills Experts
Windows Adam S., Kristen L., Matt V., Anne P.
Mac OS Adam S., Ali H., Priscilla H., Matt V., Amanda S., Anne P., Farhanul H., Julie I.
Linux, shells

Adam S., Kristen L., Bryson S., Ali H., Samir K., Ezra H., Anne P., Farhanul H., Sean S., Harrison C.

IRAF Priscilla H., Anne P.
Python Adam S., Kristen L., Bryson S., Ali H., Priscilla H., Samir K., Matt V., Amanda S., Ezra H., Anne P., Farhanul H., Julie I., Sean S., Harrison C.
IDL Sean S.
C/C++ Ali H., Samir K.
JavaScript Farhanul H.
Parallelization / Multi-core Processing Kristen L., Ali H., Farhanul H., Harrison C.
github Kristen L., Ali H., Samir K., Amanda S., Farhanul H., Harrison C.
HTML/CSS Bryson S., Samir K., Ezra H., Farhanul H., Julie I.
Text Editors Adam S., Bryson S., Ali H., Samir K. (emacs/vi), Amanda S. (vi/VS Code), Farhanul H., Harrison C.
LaTeX Adam S., Kristen L., Bryson S., Ali H., Priscilla H., Anne P., Farhanul H., Julie I., Sean S.
MatLab Kristen L., Ali H., Ezra H.
Microsoft Office Ali H., Priscilla H., Matt V., Anne P., Farhanul H.
Machine Learning Bryson S., Farhanul H.
Writing / Editing Adam S., Kristen L., Ali H., Priscilla H., Samir K., Cristo S., Farhanul H.
Telescopes Priscilla H., Matt V., Cristo S., Anne P., Farhanul H., Sean S., Mark C.
APO Bryson S., Anne P., Farhanul H., Mark C.
Sunspot Amanda S., Cristo S., Sean S.
GSC/ASNMSU Ali H., Sean S., Harrison C.
AstroImageJ Anne P.


Non-Academic Skills Experts
Building Computers Adam S., Samir K., Matt V., Ezra H.(laptop battery repurposing), Harrison C.
Photography Amanda S., Cristo S., Sean S., Mark C.
Photoshop / GIMP Cristo S., Ezra H., Julie I.
Videography/Video Editing Priscilla H. (iMovie/Final Cut Pro), Farhanul H.
Graphic Design Priscilla H., Cristo S.
Pet Sitting Adam S., Bryson S., Ezra H., Hannah G., Farhanul H., Harrison C.
Rock Climbing Adam S., Farhanul H.
Hiking Adam S., Ali H., Matt V., Anne P., Farhanul H., Harrison C.
Music Bryson S., Ali H., Samir K. (bass), Ezra H., Anne P. (violin), Farhanul H. (bass/melodica/ukulele/composing/producing), Sean S.
Sports Adam S. (running/soccer), Ali H., Matt V., Amanda S. (archery), Cristo S., Ezra H.(juggling), Anne P. (horseback riding), Farhanul H. (exercising/soccer)
Art Ali H., Priscilla H. (painting/poetry), Cristo S. (calligraphy/sketching/typography), Farhanul H. (painting/drawing/sketching), Julie I.
Sewing Priscilla H., Julie I.
3D Printing Julie I.
Gaming Adam S. (board games), Sean S.
Cooking/Baking Kristen L. (baking), Bryson S. (cooking), Priscilla H. (cooking), Cristo S. (cooking/baking), Sean S.
Gardening Kristen L., Anne P. (houseplants), Farhanul H.

Help Develop Skills: 15 Minute Lectures

Every once in a while, a grad student will decide to share their knowledge at an AGSO meeting in the form of a 15 minutes lecture. The information in these talks are compiled here. If you would like to give a 15 minutes lecture, contact the AGSO president. 

Linux cluster users guide: information on computers, accounts, email, web pages, backups, etc. 

At one point students pooled their collective knowledge of useful 
programs and languages in a series of short lectures. These files are 
the result of those talks. 

  • Tips, tricks, and one-liners 

Strictly speaking, this wasn't a lecture. This is a collection of habits, shortcuts, and small scripts used by your fellow grad students to make life easier. 
Also check out the AGSO useful programs and websites list. 

  • Linux (James Stockton)

An external quick guide to UNIX commands 


  • IRAF (Jeff Coughlin)

recommends the IRAF help pages (e.g. ccdproc)

  • Other Uses for LaTeX (Jeff Coughlin) 

Beamer makes slide presentations (a.k.a Powerpoint) from Latex. The site starts out with the most basic slides and works to more complicated ones. There are examples for many slide layouts and the code to produce them. 

Also, as a bonus, here is a decent page for learning how to make a really nice-looking poster via Latex.

  • Organizing Papers (Kenza Arraki) 

  • Searching for Papers 
    When it comes to finding specific papers, there are several sources. Around the department, the favorite places are: 
  • ADS 
  • ADS Labs 
  • arXiv 
  • Browsing Papers 
  • RSS feeds: Walkthrough on setting up an RSS feed for astronomy news. 
  • Organizing: Now that you have your papers, how do you keep them organized? 
  • ADS account: Generate a personal library on ADS 
  • Manually: Keep links to papers and notes, generate your own bibtex 
  • Reading: The papers are collected and organized. All that's left is to read them. 
  • Print out: Good for the papers you reference the most. Avoid printing unimportant papers. 
  • On the computer: Keep notes in a text file 
  • How to Get Papers (Kyle Uckert) 

Sometimes you need papers from journals that NMSU does not have a subscription for. This can be a common problem if you need engineering papers (perhaps describing how astronomical instruments work) or geology papers (useful for planetary people). There are methods for gettings these paper rather than through the universty. 

  • Google Scholar: Sometimes the paper's author will host the paper on their own site. Google Scholar is good for finding these sites. There is a button underneath each result that says, "All N results." Click this and look for links with [PDF] in the title. 
  • Proxy Servers: Use a proxy for the library server of another university that has a subscription for the journal you need. This can be handy if you want to access papers from home without going through NMSU's library website. The proxy server for NMSU is put in later. For some servers you will need a username and password. 
  • Emacs (Kenza Arraki) 

When it comes to text editors, the crowd favorite is Emacs. The usefulness of this programs increases dramatically when you master the keyboard shortcuts. Here is short list of the most useful shortcuts. In these shortcuts, C stands for control and M stands for meta, also known as alt. 


C+x, C+s 

Save as 

C+x, C+w 


C+x, C+c 

Revert buffer 




Delete line 


Delete word 


Split the terminal into two vertical windows 

C+x, 2 

Split the terminal into two horizontal windows 

C+x, 3 

Undo the window split 

C+x 1 



Search and Replace 

M+% (hit space to replace each instance) 

Highlight a region 


Wipe (cut) highlighted region 


Copy highlighted region 




Cut columns 

C+Space in upper left corner of region, C+x,r,k in lower right corner of region 

Paste columns 

C+x, r, y 

Start macro 


End macro 


Execute macro 


Execute macro 100 times 


Next line 


Reflow paragraph 



  • Useful Websites (Nikki Nielsen) 

There are a ton of useful websites out there, but they can be hard to find. Here, Nikki has compiled a list of the best of the best 

  • Conferences: 
  • How to become a better astronomy: 
  • Astro-ph: 
  • Astrobites: Summaries of new papers written by graduate students. 
  • arXiver: The newest papers on the arXiv represented by their most important figure. 
  • Research related sites: 
  • SVO Filter Profile Service: Contains everything you would every want to know about every filter on every major telescope. 
  • HTML Color Picker: Get the color code of that ideal color you need for your plots. 
  • Python Matplotlib: THE resource on plotting with Python. Not plotting with Python? Check out the site to see why you should be. 


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