KICP News



 
2016 Yerkes Summer Institute: Spy vs. Spy
August 16, 2016
2016 Yerkes Summer Institute: Spy vs. Spy
Instructors: Camille Avestruz, Zoheyr Doctor, Gourav Khullar, Richard G. Kron, Randall H. Landsberg, James Lasker, Phil Mansfield, Sam Passaglia, Rebecca Pierce, Jason Poh.

The 2016 Yerkes Summer Institute (YSI) was filled with secrecy, deception, and espionage. At YSI, high school students in the Space Explorers program played the role of 20th-Century spies to handle secret information: revealing, concealing and distorting information. Through three day-long lab activities, the students explored connections between spying and science. In the "Secret Photos" lab, they studied angular size, resolution, and the film-development process in order to effectively gather information on "enemy operatives" using 35 mm cameras. In the "Radio Beams" lab, students designed, built, and tested a system to transmit audio via an amplitude-modulated (AM) laser, which allowed them to secretly communicate across long distances. Lastly, techniques to securely communicate were examined in the "Codes and Ciphers" lab, which also served as an introduction to modern cryptography. After cycling through these three day labs, the students broke into three new groups and took one of the labs a step further: one group doctored photographs to spread false information, another built AM radio transmitters and receivers, and the last created treasure hunts using codes and ciphers for the clues. Nighttime activities included: observations with the Yerkes telescopes, astrophotography, explorations of the constellations which focused on what current research can tell us about them (e.g. most know exoplanets were found by Kepler in the constellation Cygnus); and bad weather activities that included examinations of the veracity of viral internet photos, and stories of famous spies. The week's spy-themed activities not only introduced the students to the importance of privacy in the digital age, but also to the concepts and skills that are integral to any modern STEM career.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Camille Avestruz; Richard G. Kron; Randall H. Landsberg
KICP Students: Zoheyr Doctor; Gourav Khullar; James Lasker; Phil Mansfield; Jason Poh
 
Congratulations to Dr. Sean Johnson!
July 18, 2016
Congratulations to Dr. Sean Johnson!
Congratulations to Sean Johnson for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Studies of the relationship between galaxies and the inter/circum-galactic medium".

"Sean's thesis work casts new light on the intricate physical processes that drive the baryon cycles between star-forming regions and the intergalactic space. He led an ambitious survey of the galactic environments around chemically-enriched gas revealed in strong absorption against a background source. Sean's thesis sample represents the first of its kind in terms of both the scale and depth of galaxy survey data in quasar fields. It provides a pathfinder for future large-scale studies that will combine wide-field galaxy surveys with absorption spectroscopy to advance our understanding of chemical enrichment in low-density regions away from galaxies."
- Hsiao-Wen Chen, PhD advisor

Sean will be starting as a Carnegie-Princeton/Hubble fellow at Princeton in the fall.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
KICP Students: Sean Johnson
 
Congratulations to Dr. Asher Berlin!
July 8, 2016
Dr. Asher Berlin
Dr. Asher Berlin
Congratulations to Asher Berlin for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Phenomenology of Particle Dark Matter".

"Asher's work has covered a broad range of topics related to dark matter and efforts to reveal its particle nature. He has worked on theory calculations relevant to underground and space-based dark matter searches and to searches for dark matter at the Large Hadron Collider. More recently, he has worked on non-standard ways in which dark matter may be have created in the early universe."
- Dan Hooper, PhD advisor

Asher has received a Post Doctoral Fellow position at SLAC.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Hooper; Lian-Tao Wang
KICP Students: Asher Berlin
 
Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Richardson!
June 23, 2016
Dr. Jonathan Richardson
Dr. Jonathan Richardson
Congratulations to Jonathan Richardson for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Experimental Constraints on the Exotic Shearing of Space-Time".

"Jon's thesis represents an important milestone. He's done much of the critical work to make the Holometer experiment a reality. It's the most sensitive instrument ever built to study tiny random jitters of space. In his thesis, he shows that the scale of random shear jitter is more than an order of magnitude less than the Planck length, which was the theoretical expectation. The experiment essentially rules out this effect. He's working with our team now to reconfigure the machine to study the other possibility, a jitter of rotational motion, at similar sensitivity. There is some hope that this effect in the laboratory may connect with the cosmic dark energy problem."
- Craig J. Hogan

Jonathan has received a Research Fellow position at the University of Michigan.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Craig J. Hogan; Stephan S. Meyer
KICP Students: Jonathan Richardson
 
Congratulations to Dr. Brittany Kamai!
June 22, 2016
Dr. Brittany Kamai
Dr. Brittany Kamai
Congratulations to Brittany Kamai for successfully defending her Ph.D. dissertation on "Hunting for MHz Gravitational Waves with the Fermilab Holometer".

"Brittany's thesis uses the Holometer data for a unique measurement of gravitational waves in the Megahertz frequency band. Her analysis sets limits on possible exotic sources of gravitational waves, such as black holes in binaries of very small mass -- radiating at frequencies ten thousand time higher than those recently measured by LIGO."
- Craig J. Hogan

Brittany has received a position of LIGO Instrumentation Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Craig J. Hogan; Stephan S. Meyer
KICP Students: Brittany Kamai
 
The 2016 Kavli Prizes
June 2, 2016
The 2016 Kavli Prizes
NEW YORK, June 2, 2016 - Nine pioneering scientists from Germany, Switzerland, the UK and the USA have been named this year's recipients of the Kavli Prizes - prizes that recognize scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

This year's laureates were selected for the direct detection of gravitational waves, the invention and realization of atomic force microscopy, and for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain function.

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics goes to Ronald W.P. Drever, Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss. Gerd Binnig, Christoph Gerber and Calvin Quate share the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience goes to Eve Marder, Michael Merzenich and Carla Shatz.

The Kavli Prize is awarded by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and consists of a cash award of 1 million US dollars in each field. The laureates receive in addition a gold medal and a scroll. Today’s announcement was made by Ole M. Sejersted, President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and transmitted live to New York as part of a World Science Festival event where France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation, delivered the keynote address.

The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics is shared between Ronald W.P. Drever and Kip S. Thorne, both from the California Institute of Technology, USA, and Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. They receive the prize "for the direct detection of gravitational waves".

The signal picked up by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US on September 14, 2015, lasted just a fifth of a second but brought to an end a decades-long hunt to directly detect the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. It also opened up a completely new way of doing astronomy, which uses gravitational rather than electromagnetic radiation to study some of the most extreme and violent phenomena in the universe.

This detection has, in a single stroke and for the first time, validated Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity for very strong fields, established the nature of gravitational waves, demonstrated the existence of black holes with masses 30 times that of our sun, and opened a new window on the universe.

The detection of gravitational waves is an achievement for which hundreds of scientists, engineers and technicians around the world share credit. Drever, Thorne and Weiss stand out: their ingenuity, inspiration, intellectual leadership and tenacity were the driving force behind this epic discovery.

The Kavli Prize in Nanoscience is shared between Gerd Binnig, Former Member of IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Switzerland, Christoph Gerber, University of Basel, Switzerland, and Calvin Quate, Stanford University, USA. They receive the prize "for the invention and realization of atomic force microscopy, a breakthrough in measurement technology and nanosculpting that continues to have a transformative impact on nanoscience and technology".

The realization of the atomic force microscope was reported by Binnig, Gerber and Quate in 1986, with a demonstration that the instrument could be used to obtain profiles of a solid-state surface with close to atomic resolution.

In the last 30 years the instrument has evolved dramatically and has provided fundamental insight into the chemistry and physics of a large variety of surfaces. It is still widely used today as a versatile tool for imaging and manipulation in a broad range of scientific disciplines.

The Kavli Prize in Neuroscience is shared between Eve Marder, Brandeis University, USA, Michael Merzenich, University of California San Francisco, USA, and Carla Shatz, Stanford University, USA. They receive the prize "for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain function".

Until the 1970s, neuroscientists largely believed that by the time we reach adulthood the architecture of the brain is hard-wired and relatively inflexible. The ability of nerves to grow and form abundant new connections was thought mainly to occur during infancy and childhood. This view supported the notion that it is easier for children to learn new skills such as a language or musical instrument than it is for adults.

Over the past 40 years, however, the three Kavli neuroscience prize-winners have challenged these assumptions and provided a convincing view of a far more flexible adult brain than previously thought possible - one that is 'plastic', or capable of remodelling. Working in different model systems, each researcher has focused on how experience can alter both the architecture and functioning of nerve circuits throughout life, given the right stimulus and context. They have provided a physical and biochemical understanding of the idea of 'use it, or lose it'.

This new picture of a more adaptable brain offers hope for developing new ways to treat neurological conditions that were once considered untreatable.

About the Kavli Prizes
The Kavli Prize is a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation (USA) and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The Kavli Prizes were initiated by and named after Fred Kavli (1927-2013), founder of The Kavli Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work.

Kavli Prize recipients are chosen biennially by three prize committees comprised of distinguished international scientists recommended by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences, the Max Planck Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society.

After the prize committees have selected the award recipients, their recommendations are confirmed by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The 2016 Kavli Prizes will be awarded in Oslo, Norway, on 6 September. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon will present the prizes to the laureates. This year's ceremony will be hosted by Alan Alda and Lena Kristin Ellingsen. Prime Minister Erna Solberg will host a banquet at Oslo City Hall in honour of the laureates.

The ceremony is part of Kavli Prize Week - a week of special programmes to celebrate extraordinary achievements in science.

Read more >>
 
Congratulations to Prof. Angela V. Olinto!
May 31, 2016
Congratulations to Prof. Angela V. Olinto!
Angela V. Olinto named a Homer J. Livingston Distinguished Service Professor effective July 1, 2016.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Angela V. Olinto
 
Keith Bechtol wins Saturday's Soldier Field 10 Mile Race
May 31, 2016
Keith Bechtol wins Saturday's Soldier Field 10 Mile Race
Former KICP Fellow Keith Bechtol wins Saturday's Soldier Field 10 Mile Race (time - 49 min 38 sec).

Related Links:
KICP Members: Keith Bechtol
 
Dan Scolnic Competes in Famelab national finals
May 18, 2016
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic recently competed in the Finals of Famelab in Washington DC. Dan competed against 9 other winners of regional finals. Dan spoke on “The Expanding Universe and why he isn’t a professional basketball player.” His presentation covered the current mismatch in cosmological parameters derived from measurements of the CMB vs. those derived from measurements of distant Type Ia supernovae and what that tension might mean for the standard model of cosmology.

FameLab USA is a NASA-sponsored, science-based take on American Idol, aimed at fostering an open community for science communication and development.

Read more >>

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Scolnic
 
Wayne Hu elected to the National Academy of Sciences
May 3, 2016
Wayne Hu elected to the National Academy of Sciences
News from the National Academy of Sciences

Wayne Hu is a senior member of the KICP and the Horace B. Horton Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College. His research focuses on the theory and phenomenology of structure formation in the Universe as revealed in Cosmic Microwave Background anisotropies, gravitational lensing, galaxy clustering and galaxy clusters.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
 
Congratulations to Joshua Frieman!
April 20, 2016
Congratulations to Joshua Frieman!
Please join me in congratulating Josh Frieman on his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Membership in this oldest of US academies is a high honor and one well deserved by our friend and colleague Josh Frieman.

For more about the American Academy and the class of 2016 honorees see: Newly Elected Fellows

Michael S. Turner,
Director of the PFC and KICP

Read more >>

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman; Michael S. Turner
 
Life Long Learning program
March 9, 2016
Life Long Learning program
This spring, graduate students, postdocs, and Professors from KICP and the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics will present at least 19 lectures to older adults throughout Chicago, as part of the Life Long Learning program associated with Daniel Grin's NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship. Adults past retirement age make up an increasingly large demographic, and continued cognitive/social engagement are crucial for healthy aging. We'll bring basic and cutting-edge content in astrophysics to interested older adults at city senior centers, retirement homes, and public libraries. We are always looking for more presenters to reach wider audiences. To conclude this year's program, we will bring hundreds of older adults to the Adler Planetarium in June free of charge.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Michael D. Gladders; Daniel Grin; Jason Henning; Daniel E. Holz; Richard G. Kron; Andrew J. Long; Stephan S. Meyer; Daniel Scolnic
KICP Students: Sean Johnson; Brittany Kamai
 
KICP celebrates an historic day in science
February 15, 2016



KICP and LIGO collaboration members Daniel Holz, Ben Farr, Hsin-Yu Chen, and Zoheyr Doctor shared the excitement of the discovery of Gravitational Waves with the rest of the KICP and Physical Sciences Division at a live stream event of the discovery press conference on February 11.




The crowd overflowed the ERC auditorium as students, faculty, and staff all clamored to hear the historic announcement. Upon hearing the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves, we did it!” the room broke into spontaneous applause. Following the press conference, Holz answered questions from the audience. Later that day, he expanded upon the announcement at an overflow Physics Colloquium.

LIGO press conference

Related Links:
KICP Members: Ben Farr; Daniel E. Holz
KICP Students: Hsin-Yu Chen; Zoheyr Doctor
 
The KICP will welcome 3 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2016
February 15, 2016
The KICP will welcome 3 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2016
Douglas Applegate received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and is currently at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research focuses on using weak gravitational lensing measurements of galaxy clusters to test cosmological models. At KICP, Douglas plans to continue his work with the South Pole Telescope and LSST Dark Energy Science collaborations.

Chihway Chang received her PhD at Stanford University where she studied the potential systematic effects in weak lensing measurements for the Large Synoptics Survey Telescope (LSST). She then ventured to Switzerland as a postdoc at ETH Zurich and worked on weak lensing data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES). At KICP, Chihway is interested in extending her current work and exploring the power of combining CMB data from SPT with DES.

Christopher Tunnell is involved in the XENON1T as the analysis coordinator and will be collaborating with Luca Grandi at KICP. Before coming to KICP, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Dutch particle-physics laboratory Nikhef where he researched light Dark Matter. He completed his doctorate at the University of Oxford on sterile-neutrino physics.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Luca Grandi
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES); South Pole Telescope (SPT); XENON1T
 
Chen He Wins Best Poster Prize at the "Essential Cosmology For Next Generations" conference
February 3, 2016
Chen He, KICP graduate student
Chen He, KICP graduate student
Congratulations to Chen He for being awarded the best poster prize at the conference Essential Cosmology for the Next Generations 2016. The poster presented work done with Wayne Hu and Daniel Grin on "Compensated Isocurvature Perturbations (CIP) in the Curvaton Model". The authors proposed to correlate CIPs with cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropies, and showed that with this technique, CMB-Stage 4 - a next-generation CMB experiment - would distinguish between curvaton decay scenarios by probing the largest CIP attainable in the curvaton model.

Chen He's work focuses on understanding fundamental physics in the early universe through cosmological observations of the cosmic microwave background.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Grin; Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Chen He
 
Searching for dark matter: Inside the Xenon1T detector
December 24, 2015
Michael Turner and Luca Grandi inside the Xenon1T detector.
Michael Turner and Luca Grandi inside the Xenon1T detector.
Michael Turner visited the Xenon1T a week after the XENON collaboration's inauguration and Luca Grandi, a member of the XENON Collaboration, took him "inside the Xenon1T detector" to see how it all works. XENON1T employs the ultra-pure noble gas xenon as dark matter detection material, cooled down to -95 degrees Celsius to make it liquid and the detector will be immersed in liquid Xenon in January. XEON1T's first results are expected in early 2016. The collaboration expects the instrument to achieve most of its objectives within two years of data collection. The researchers then will move their project into a new phase.

"Of course we want to detect the dark matter particle," Grandi said, "but even if we have only found some hints after two years, we are in an excellent position to move on as we are already now preparing the next step of the project, which will be the far more sensitive XENONnT."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Luca Grandi; Michael S. Turner
Scientific projects: XENON1T
 
Erik Shirokoff has received a NSF CAREER award
December 22, 2015
Erik Shirokoff has received a NSF CAREER award
Congratulations to KICP senior member Erik Shirokoff for being awarded a NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award for "Developing Antenna-Coupled Kinetic Inductance Detectors to Enable Next Generation CMB Experiments". The team will design, build and demonstrate arrays of Kinetic Inductance Detectors (KIDs). A KID contains a very cold, resistance-free device. That device changes its properties when it "sees" the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the faint signal from the young Universe. Vast arrays of KIDs are needed for the next generation of CMB experiments. The team will also provide laboratory experience for undergraduates from underrepresented minorities and for high school students in the Chicago area.

The CAREER award is presented to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Erik Shirokoff
 
Congratulations to Dr. Lee McCuller!
October 30, 2015
Dr. Lee McCuller
Dr. Lee McCuller
Congratulations to Lee McCuller for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Testing a Model of Planck-Scale Quantum Geometry With Broadband Correlation of Colocated 40m Interferometers".

"Lee has been a central contributor to the design, construction, operation and analysis of the Holometer experiment. Lee designed and implemented the control system that maintains the power-recycling cavity locked to the laser and the interferometer differential arm length constant to better than than 1/2 Angstrom over their 40 meter length. His analysis of the system has lead to precise understanding of the instrument state including knowledge of the calibration and constraints on systematics."
- Stephan Meyer, Ph.D. advisor

Lee will be starting a post-doctoral position with the LIGO Gravitational-Wave observatory at their MIT laboratory.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Stephan S. Meyer
KICP Students: Lee McCuller
 
We've moved into the William Eckhardt Research Center (ERC)!
October 21, 2015


Our center of mass is the 4th floor of ERC, with some offices on the 3rd floor, labs on the 5th floor and LL1. We share the ERC with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Institute for Molecular Engineering. In addition to state-of-the-art laboratories and the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility, the building features a beautiful 150-seat auditorium looking out on the North Science Quad, seminar and meeting rooms and many interaction areas and the 5th floor Astro Lounge.

We said goodbye to LASR on September 11th and opened up operations in the ERC on the following Monday. We have already hosted two workshops, our annual Jamboree and the first two colloquia in our Future of Cosmological Physics series. And there is much more to come!


"Homebase" for the KICP is the NW corner of the building (angle left when getting out of the elevator), where the Director, Assistant Director, Assistant to the Director, Business Manager and Meeting Coordinator have their offices. Click here for a building seating plan.

Our mailing address remains almost the same:
Name, ERC office #, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the University of Chicago, 5640 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637-1433.
 
Congratulations to Dr. Tyler Natoli!
September 29, 2015
Dr. Tyler Natoli
Dr. Tyler Natoli
Congratulations to Tyler Natoli for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "A Search for Transient Sources in the First 100 deg2 of SPTpol Data".

Tyler has received a Dunlap Fellow position with the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto.

Related Links:
KICP Members: John E. Carlstrom
KICP Students: Tyler Natoli
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope (SPT)
 
Congratulations to Dr. Jing Zhou!
September 1, 2015
Dr. Jing Zhou
Dr. Jing Zhou
Congratulations to Jing Zhou for successfully defending her Ph.D. dissertation on "Direct Dark Matter Detection with the DAMIC experiment at SNOLAB".

"Jing has made fundamental contributions to the DAMIC experiment in its crucial R&D phase. Her measurements of radiogenic backgrounds in silicon include novel powerful methods which make use of the excellent spatial resolution of the CCDs. These measurements put stringent limits on the presence of uranium and thorium and provide a first evidence for sizeable cosmogenic silicon 32 in the bulk of high-purity silicon, an important discovery for the present and next generation of dark matter silicon detectors. Also, she has measured the nuclear recoil ionization efficiency in silicon below 3 keV, an energy range so far unexplored and fundamental for the search of low mass WIMPs. The impact of these results goes beyond their application in DAMIC, and will influence any WIMP detector based on silicon."
- Paolo Privitera, Ph.D. advisor

Jing has received a position of Quantitative Analyst in WorldQuantat.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Paolo Privitera
KICP Students: Jing Zhou
Scientific projects: Dark Matter in CCDs (DAMIC)
 
Congratulations to Dr. Alan Robinson!
August 31, 2015
Dr. Alan Robinson
Dr. Alan Robinson
Congratulations to Alan Robinson for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Dark Matter Limits from a 2L C3F8 Filled Bubble Chamber".

"Alan's thesis goes beyond presenting new WIMP limits from our bubble chambers. In addition to that, he has provided the community of dark matter experimentalists with new tools that should generate a wide interest: revised cross-section libraries for neutron production and neutron scattering that can be employed to better assess the sensitivity of any WIMP detector."
- Juan I. Collar, Ph.D. advisor

Alan has received a Research Associate position at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Juan I. Collar
KICP Students: Alan Robinson
Scientific projects: Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics (COUPP)