CIERA’s Alex Gurvich, a second-year astronomy graduate student advised by Professor Claude-André Faucher-Giguère, recently accepted two important fellowships within the same week. Part of the Galaxy Formation Group at Northwestern, Alex explores “the invisible universe” (the history and features of galaxies, stars, and supernovae) using computer simulations. Alex will receive three years of funding as one of 2,000 awardees of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Alex will also receive a one-year graduate fellowship from Blue Waters National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which includes a significant allocation of time to use the powerful supercomputer hosted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Astrophysicist Vicky Kalogera, faculty member in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. Kalogera, the Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
At Computational Research Day, the annual symposium for digital research organized by NUIT, astronomy students were awarded the following:
– Alex Gurvich, Best Animation in the Data Visualization Challenge with “Stellar Feedback vs. Galaxy Formation”, a high resolution animation of a
simulation of stellar feedback and resulting galaxy formation with three varied results side by side.
– Michael Katz, 2nd Place Award for his poster: Probing Massive Black Hole Populations and Their Environments with LISA.
– Josh Fixelle, 3rd Place Award for his poster: Stellar Mass Black Hole - Star Collisions with Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics.
Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) has named two-dozen top early career academic scientists as 2018 Cottrell Scholars; one of whom is CIERA Professor, Claude-André Faucher-Giguère. The designation comes with a $100,000 award for each recipient for research and teaching, for a total of $2.4 million. “The Cottrell Scholar (CS) program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards,” said RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer.
Vicky Kalogera has been awarded the 2018 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for her groundbreaking work studying compact objects -- including black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs -- in astrophysical systems. The award, administered by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS), cites Kalogera’s “fundamental contributions to advancing our understanding of the evolution and fate of compact objects in binary systems, with particular regard to their electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals.”
Professor Mel Ulmer will receive funds from the National Reconnaissance Office for a project called DOMinATE (Deployable Optical MembrAne Telescope). DOMinATE is a spin-off of Ulmer’s NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) project called APERTURE, with applications to CubeSats using an innovative material for the substrate, called shape memory alloys (SMAs). A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10×10×10 cm cubic units. Collaborators on the project come from the University of Central Florida for the SMA development and the University of Miami for CubeSat considerations. The NIAC Program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform the future of NASA missions.
On November 2, Science in Society announced the winners of the 2017 Northwestern Scientific Images Contest. The winners were announced during an exhibition launch and reception held at Evanston Township High School (ETHS). Aaron Geller, an astronomer with a joint appointment in CIERA and the Adler Planetarium, swept both 1st place and the People’s Choice Award with his computer simulation of a dense star cluster. (The People’s Choice Award is voted on by the students of ETHS.) Geller has participated in the contest and related outreach activities for the past few years, but this is the first time he’s come in first place.
At the 2017 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference (October 19-21 in Salt Lake City, Utah), Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student José Flores won best poster presentation. His poster was titled Time Scales of Different Star Formation Rate Indicators Using FIRE Star Formation Histories. The annual SACNAS meeting is the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM diversity conference in the country. SACNAS, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, is an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM. José is a Physics & Astronomy major and Math minor at Cal Poly Pomona. He presented research he developed during the summer of 2017 as part of the CIERA REU program, working with his advisor, Professor Claude-André Faucher-Giguère.
The 27th Midwest Relativity Meeting was held October 12-14, 2017, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. This meeting brings together researchers from across the Midwest and beyond to discuss General Relativity and a broad range of topics in gravitational physics. Astronomy graduate student Katie Breivik won the Blue Apple Prize for the best student talk, out of nearly 40 presentations. Her talk was titled, “Revealing the Milky Way's black hole population with Gaia.”
At the LSC-Virgo September Meeting near Geneva, Switzerland, graduate student Eve Chase won the best poster award in the Data Analysis/Theory category. The meeting took place August 28 - September 1, 2017 at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) is a collaboration of international physics institutes and research groups dedicated to the search for gravitational waves. Virgo is an interferometer gravitational wave detector in Pisa, Italy. Eve is a second-year astronomy graduate student who is part of Vicky Kalogera’s group. Eve studies computational and data analysis techniques related to gravitational wave astronomy. Her poster, titled "Gravitational-Wave Localization in the LSST Era,” focused on using the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope to search for electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves.