KICP News



 
KICP Members Win Midwest Famelab Competition
June 17, 2015
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic (center) and graduate student Ross Cawthon (back row 3<sup>rd</sup> from left) were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago.
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic (center) and graduate student Ross Cawthon (back row 3rd from left) were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago.
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic and graduate student Ross Cawthon were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago. Ross advanced to the final round with "A Cosmic Battle: Gravity vs. Dark Energy", a presentation on the battle between gravity and dark energy, and how the outcome determines the fate of the universe. While Dan brought home the gold by talking about the cosmic origins of gold. In his presentation, "Wedding Bands and Supernovae", he explained that the only objects in the universe that can produce the gold, silver or platinum in a wedding band are supernovae. He discussed how they can be used as "standard candles", and how he is finding and measuring thousands of these standard candles to determine the expansion history of the universe. Dan won both the judges award and the audience award. Next April, he will head to Washington DC for the national competition, where he will face nine other national finalists from the last two years. Both Dan and Ross credit participating in KICP outreach efforts including Astronomy Conversations, Life Long Learning (senior outreach) and working with inner city youth in the Space Explorers Program with helping to hone their science communications skills.

FameLab USA is a NASA-sponsored, science-based take on American Idol, aimed at fostering an open community for science communication and development. Dan summed up the training and competition experience, "It was really fun, and the organizers spent a lot of time giving us lessons on better ways to convey hard science topics to audiences."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Scolnic
KICP Students: Ross Cawthon
 
Congratulations to Dr. Ke Fang!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Ke Fang!
Congratulations to Ke Fang for successfully defending her PhD dissertation on "Newborn Pulsars as Highest-Energy Cosmic Accelerators."

Ke has received a joint postdoctoral position at the University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Angela V. Olinto
KICP Students: Ke Fang
 
Congratulations to Dr. Benedikt Diemer!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Benedikt Diemer!
Congratulations to Benedikt Diemer for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "On the (non-)universality of halo density profiles."

"In his PhD thesis Benedikt Diemer has shown that radial density profiles of dark matter halos cannot be characterized only as a function of halo mass, as was thought previously, but also depend on the mass accretion rate of halos. The work has resulted in a new model that accurately describes halo profiles in simulations from small radii out to 10 virial radii. Likewise, Benedikt has shown that halo concentrations depend not only on the halo mass (or more precisely on halo peak height), but also on the local slope of the power spectrum. Overall, this thesis showed that previously believed "universality" of the halo profiles is limited. Beyond just criticizing previous models, new models were developed that take into account the extra dependencies of halo profile parameters on the mass accretion rate and power law slope."
- Andrey V. Kravtsov, Ph.D. advisor

Benedikt has received a fellow position at the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) at the Harvard University.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
KICP Students: Benedikt Diemer
 
Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Helsby!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Helsby!
Congratulations to Jennifer Helsby for successfully defending her PhD dissertation on "Clustering-based redshifts for the Dark Energy Survey."

"To constrain cosmology, and in particular to probe dark energy, from deep optical imaging surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES), requires precise estimates of the redshifts of the distant galaxies they observe. Traditionally, these redshift estimates are made using galaxy colors, but this technique has known limitations and biases. Jennifer's thesis work involved the testing and implementation of a novel technique for estimating redshifts of galaxies, using the fact that they cluster in space with galaxies for which the redshifts may be known from spectroscopic measurements. Using simulations, Jen found that this "clustering redshift" technique accurately reconstructs the galaxy redshift distribution for a survey such as DES. She then applied this technique to determine the redshift distribution for several million galaxies in the first year of DES data, an important result that should prove extremely valuable for the cosmological analysis of these data."
- Joshua A. Frieman, PhD advisor

Jennifer has received a 2015 Data Science for Social Good Fellowship position at the University of Chicago.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman
KICP Students: Jennifer Helsby
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES)
 
Cameron Jia Liang has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
June 3, 2015
Cameron Jia Liang has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
Cameron Jia Liang, a third year graduate student who is working with Prof. Hsiao-Wen Chen, has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. Cameron's research focuses on the impact of star formation & galactic environment on the circumgalactic medium.

This fellowship award is a recognition of his accomplishment so far and allows him to continue the effort in pursuing a better understanding of the baryon cycle between galaxies and their surrounding medium.

NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
Awarded annually, NASA Earth and Space Sciences Fellowships are given to students pursing masters or doctoral degrees in Earth and space sciences or related disciplines. The mission of the fellowship program is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's primary scientific goals. Those goals include studying planet Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs; understanding the Sun and its effects on Earth and the solar system; advancing scientific knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar system, the potential for life elsewhere, and the hazards and resources present as humans explore space; and discovering the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the universe and search for Earth-like planets.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
KICP Students: Cameron Liang
 
Congratulations to Dr. Vinicius Miranda!
June 2, 2015
Dr. Vinicius Miranda
Dr. Vinicius Miranda
Congratulations to Vinicius Miranda for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Probing Inflation with the Cosmic Microwave Background."

Vinicius has received a Postdoctoral Fellow position at the University of Pennsylvania.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Vinicius Miranda
 
Congratulations to Dr. Yin Li!
June 2, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Yin Li!
Congratulations to Yin Li for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Cosmic Void Abundance in a Spherical Boundary Model."

Yin has received a joint postdoc position at the Berkeley and Kavli IPMU (Japan).

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Yin Li
 
Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Student Research
June 2, 2015
NATHAN SUGARMAN, Professor Emeritus in the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Department of Chemistry, was devoted to the Institute and to the education of its students. The Sugarman Award Fund honors this commitment through its annual awards for student achievements in research.
NATHAN SUGARMAN, Professor Emeritus in the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Department of Chemistry, was devoted to the Institute and to the education of its students. The Sugarman Award Fund honors this commitment through its annual awards for student achievements in research.
The Enrico Fermi Institute Announces the winners of the 24th Annual Nathan Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research:

  • Jessica Avva, Undergraduate Student
    "For her contributions to experimental ultra - high energy neutrino astrophysics, particularly for her leading role on the measurement of the radio attenuation length of ice at Summit Station, Greenland and the development of a prototype radio phased array."
  • Hsin - Yu Chen, Graduate Student
    "For her contributions to gravitational wave astrophysics, and in particular, for her research in the field of multi - messenger astronomy and the electromagnetic follow - up of gravitational wave sources."
  • Benedikt Diemer, Graduate Student
    "For the innovative contribution to our understanding of the origin and properties of density profiles of dark matter halos."


Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel E. Holz; Andrey V. Kravtsov; Abigail G. Vieregg
KICP Students: Jessica Avva; Hsin-Yu Chen; Benedikt Diemer
 
Angela Olinto wins a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
June 1, 2015
Angela Olinto wins a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
Please join me in congratulating Angela Olinto for her selection as a winner of a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. The award honors faculty members for their achievements in classroom teaching and for their special contributions in encouraging the work of graduate students. Given the great importance we place upon teaching and mentoring at the University, her recognition is a very high honor indeed.

The award will be presented to her at the Spring Quarter Convocation on Saturday, June 13, 2015, during the Division of the Physical Sciences Diploma and Hooding Ceremony. That ceremony will take place at noon at the Logan Center, Performance Hall. It will be a special pleasure for me to present it to her.

Sincerely,
Rocky Kolb
Dean of the Physical Sciences Division

Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb; Angela V. Olinto
 
Congratulations to Dr. Youngsoo Park!
April 30, 2015
Congratulations to Youngsoo Park for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Combined Probes Analysis with Galaxy Clustering and Galaxy-Galaxy Lensing in the Dark Energy Survey."

Related Links:
KICP Students: Youngsoo Park
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES)
 
Angela Olinto will serve a second consecutive term as Chair of Astronomy & Astrophysics
April 29, 2015
Angela Olinto will serve a second consecutive term as Chair of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that following the recommendation of the department's Chair Search Committee, Angela Olinto will serve a second consecutive term as Chair of Astronomy & Astrophysics through September 30, 2018.

Angela has provided exemplary leadership during this current term, and her continued leadership will be crucial to advancing the many strategic initiatives of the department.

Please join me in congratulating Angela on her reappointment.

Regards,
Rocky Kolb
Dean of the Physical Sciences

Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb; Angela V. Olinto
 
Congratulations to Dr. Kyle Story!
March 5, 2015
Dr. Kyle Story
Dr. Kyle Story
Congratulations to Kyle Story for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Measuring the Temperature Anisotropy and Gravitational Lensing of the Cosmic Microwave Background with the South Pole Telescope."

Kyle has received a Kavli postdoctoral fellowship at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), Stanford University.

Related Links:
KICP Members: John E. Carlstrom
KICP Students: Kyle Story
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope (SPT)
 
Congratulations Daweed Abdiel!
February 9, 2015
Daweed Abdiel, a KICP Space Explorer
Daweed Abdiel, a KICP Space Explorer
Daweed Abdiel, a KICP Space Explorer and senior at the Chicago Public School's Westinghouse High School has been awarded a 4-year full-tuition Posse Foundation Scholarship to attend Denison University where he plans to major in Chemistry. Daweed has been in the KICP Space Explorers Program since 2013 and exemplifies the academic and leadership skills that KICP and our cross campus partner the Office of Special Programs try to instill in participants.

The Posse Program is one of the most comprehensive college access programs in the United States providing support for Scholars from their senior year of high school, throughout college and into the workforce. It is extremely effective and successful boasting a 90% persistence and graduation rate. A defining feature of the Posse program is the "posse", a cohort of peers that provide a support network at each institution. The Posse model is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students - a Posse - carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development.

The KICP Space Explorers Program is a multi-year science enrichment program for high school students from the neighborhoods around the University of Chicago, which connects them to the KICP science community. It involves over one hundred (>100) contact hours each year including weekly laboratory sessions on campus and bi-annual residential science institutes at Yerkes Observatory in the winter and summer. 100% of Space Explorers who stay in the program through their senior year graduate high school and matriculate in college, and over half declare STEM majors.
 
The KICP will welcome 4 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2015
January 26, 2015
The KICP will welcome 4 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2015
Andrew Long received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, and he is completing his first postdoc at Arizona State University. Andrew is interested in various aspects of early universe cosmology and particle physics including the electroweak phase transition, the origin of the matter / antimatter asymmetry, Higgs and BSM physics at colliders, non-gravitational probes of topological defects, the origin of cosmological-scale magnetic fields, and the cosmological relic neutrino background including prospects for direct detection on Earth.

Camille Avestruz will join us as a joint KICP and Enrico Fermi Fellow after receiving her degree from Yale University. Camille's research uses hydrodynamic cosmological simulations to study clusters of galaxies. She is interested in using simulations to interpret observations and to model astrophysical processes that affect cluster-based cosmology.

Nicole Larsen will join the KICP as a Fellow after completing her PhD at Yale University. Her background is in dark matter direct detection. Specifically, her graduate work was on the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, where she worked extensively on detector hardware and on using LUX data to set limits on complex types of dark matter interactions. At the KICP, Nicole is interested in broadening her horizons by moving into CMB physics.

Ritoban Basu Thakur completed his PhD between University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics. His thesis was on developing new ultra low threshold cryogenic detectors for dark matter searches (SuperCDMS / CDMSlite). At KICP he plans to work on the next generation CMB cameras (SPT-3G) and continue efforts in progressing low threshold dark matter detectors with CCDs (DAMIC).
 
Congratulations to Dr. Alan Zablocki!
November 11, 2014
Congratulations to Dr. Alan Zablocki!
Congratulations to Alan Zablocki for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Constraining Neutrinos and Dark Energy with the Angular Clustering of Galaxies in the Dark Energy Survey."

"Over the last decade, cosmological observations have placed increasingly stringent upper bounds on the masses of neutrinos, while observations of neutrino oscillations imply a lower bound. Alan's thesis provides a detailed forecast of the constraints that the Dark Energy Survey (DES) will be able to place on neutrino mass in the next few years, accounting for uncertainties in dark energy and in the relative amplitude of galaxy clustering. He finds that DES has a good chance of shedding light on the pattern of neutrino masses (the mass hierarchy), an exciting possibility. His results will be of broad interest to cosmologists."
- Joshua A. Frieman, PhD advisor

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman
KICP Students: Alan Zablocki
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES)
 
Prof. Craig Hogan has been awarded the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
November 10, 2014
Prof. Craig Hogan has been awarded the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
Prof. Craig Hogan, member of the High-Z Supernova Search Team was awarded the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics!

Congratulations to Prof. Hogan!

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe. Citation: For the most unexpected discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing as had been long assumed.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics is a shared honor with Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, and Adam Riess leading a collaboration of 51 total prize recipients splitting the $3 million.

Read more

Related Links:
KICP Members: Craig J. Hogan
 
Congratulations to Vinicius Miranda for receiving the Schramm Fellowship
October 17, 2014
Congratulations to Vinicius Miranda for receiving the Schramm Fellowship
Vinicius Miranda, a KICP graduate student, was awarded the Schramm Fellowship. Miranda was nominated by Prof. Wayne Hu.

David N. Schramm (M.A. and S.B. '67, Ph.D. '71) was a professor for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Enrico Fermi Institute and Physics and was designated the Louis Block Professor of the Physical Sciences in 1982; as well as Vice President for Research in 1995.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu; Angela V. Olinto
KICP Students: Vinicius Miranda
 
Congratulations to Dr. Nicole Fields!
October 8, 2014
Congratulations to Dr. Nicole Fields!
Congratulations to Nicole Fields for successfully defending her PhD dissertation on "CosI: Development of a Low Threshold Detector for the Observation of Coherent Elastic Neutrino-Nucleus Scattering."

"Nicole's thesis describes the development of a detector capable of measuring the process of coherent elastic scattering of neutrinos off nuclei. This is the same process expected to mediate dominant interactions from WIMP dark matter candidates. First proposed 40 years ago, it hasn't been experimentally confirmed yet. Nicole's thesis discusses a full feasibility study with a prototype, and the installation of the detector at the SNS source in Oak Ridge National Laboratory".
- Juan I. Collar, PhD advisor

Nicole will be working for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a Health Physicist in Lisle, IL.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Juan I. Collar
KICP Students: Nicole Fields
Scientific projects: Coherent Germanium Neutrino Technology (CoGeNT)
 
President Obama Meets U.S. Laureates of 2014 Kavli Prizes
August 1, 2014
At the White House yesterday, President Barack Obama welcomed the four American laureates of the 2014 Kavli Prizes - prizes awarded to scientists who have made seminal advances in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

Joined by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Associate Director Jo Handelsman, the President congratulated Kavli Prize Laureates Alan H. Guth (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Andrei D. Linde (Stanford University), John O'Keefe (University College London) and Marcus E. Raichle (Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine).

Accompanying the laureates were Rockell N. Hankin, Chairman of The Kavli Foundation, Robert W. Conn, President and CEO of The Kavli Foundation, Miyoung Chun, Executive Vice President of Science Programs of The Kavli Foundation, and Kare R. Aas, the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States.

"This year's Kavli Laureates are working on the frontiers of human knowledge and capability, from the far reaches of deep space to the intricate neural networks of the mind," said John P. Holdren, President Obama's Science Advisor. "Achievements like these will no doubt inspire dreamers across the Nation to ask bold questions and take on the challenge of discovering answers."

"We could not be more grateful to President Obama for honoring these laureates, or for the President's strong and continuing commitment to science," said Rockell N. Hankin. "The U.S. laureates exemplify the very best of what science can achieve in this country. Along with being a tremendous honor, this visit provides us a moment to pause and appreciate just how important science is to the nation and all humanity."

"It's been The Kavli Foundation's great honor to join with the President in his efforts to advance science in the United States, particularly by playing a catalytic role in the BRAIN Initiative, which is a national initiative to produce a dynamic picture of the brain in action," said Robert W. Conn. "We thank the President for so strongly shining a light on the importance of truly basic scientific research."

The 2014 Kavli Prizes laureates were selected for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation, for transformative contributions to the field of nano-optics and for the discovery of specialized brain networks for memory and cognition.

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is shared by Alan H. Guth, Andrei D. Linde, and Alexei A. Starobinsky (Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia). The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience is shared by Thomas W. Ebbesen (Universite Louis Pasteur, Universite de Strasbourg, France), Stefan W. Hell (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany), and Sir John B. Pendry (Imperial College London, UK). The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience is shared by Brenda Milner (Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Canada), John O'Keefe and Marcus E. Raichle.

The Kavli Prize is a partnership between The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation and The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Prize was established to recognize outstanding scientific research, honor pioneering scientists, promote public understanding of scientists and their work, and foster international cooperation among scientists.

The 2014 Kavli Prize Laureates will receive their medals this fall during a ceremony held in Oslo, Norway. For more information about the laureates and upcoming events, visit www.kavliprize.org.

Read more >>
 
Congratulations to Dr. Eric Baxter!
July 18, 2014
Congratulations to Dr. Eric Baxter!
Congratulations to Eric Baxter for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Measuring Gravitational Lensing of the Cosmic Microwave Background by Galaxy Clusters."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Scott Dodelson
KICP Students: Eric J. Baxter