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Northwestern University

JULY 2011

Dr. Michael Smutko Interviewed by Tribune Local
Northwestern's own Distinguished Senior lecturer Michael Smutko speaks with Tribune Local about Dearborn Observatory, his research in high mass stars and adaptive optics, and why an investment in science should be a top priority.

A preview:

In addition to your work at Northwestern, you are also an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. Tell me about your research there

"My current research focuses on how stars form in the Milky Way Galaxy. In particular, [I study] high mass stars—at least ten or twenty times the mass of our Sun. Those turn out to be some of the most interesting stars, because they're extremely luminous, but they also end in these fiery, supernova explosions that generate many of the chemical elements that make up the Earth.

So they're important stars, but not much is actually known about how they form. Part of the reason is that they're fairly rare. For maybe every thousand or even ten thousand stars like our Sun, only one of these high mass stars will form."

JUNE 2011


Laura Trouille Chairs AAS Special Session
CIERA postdoctoral fellow Laura Trouille presented a special session for women and minorities at the 218th AAS meeting held in Boston on networking and mentoring skills . A highlight of her talk can be found on page 16 of the AAS July/August Newsletter

Scott Coughlin and John Le have been awarded WCAS Summer Research Grants
Two undergraduate students in Vicky Kalogera's group, Scott Coughlin and John Le, have been awarded Weinberg College of Art and Science Summer Research Grants for their research in gravitational-wave sources and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). The grant gives full financial support to oustanding students pursuing novel research.

John Le's research proposal can be found here

Scott Coughlin's research proposal can be found here

Dr. Michael Smutko has been promoted to Distinguished Senior Lecturer

We congratulate Dr. Michael Smutko's promotion to position of Distinguished Senior Lecturer. He also has been elected to the Associated Student Government's Faculty Honor Roll (his 5th time), and has been invited to give the keynote address at NU's Phi Betta Kappa induction ceremony

MAY 2011


Professor Frederic Rasio and Colleagues Announce "The Physics of Astronomical Transients" Conference
Rapid advances in detector technology, computer processing power and data storage are fostering a data-driven revolution in astrophysics. This is enabling surveys that probe ever-larger areas of the sky and ever-fainter sources, opening up a vast discovery space. These advances also add temporal information to what was previously a relatively static picture of the sky. In addition to aiding the discovery of whole new classes of variable astronomical phenomena, temporal information probes the fundamental physics of the underlying objects. Coupling these surveys with innovative exploration strategies and novel theoretical work will open new windows onto the universe. This meeting will focus on issues related to the physics and discovery of astronomical transients. Topics will range from the extragalactic: detection of gamma-ray bursts, and supernovae in distant galaxies, variable AGN, to the galactic: variable stars, novae, and other cataclysmic events. Visit the conference website

Michael Tremmel Wins Undergraduate Research Symposium Poster Award
Professor Kalogera's undergraduate student Michael Tremmel won third place in the Nautral Science and Engineering category in this year's Undergraduate Research Symposium, with his poster "The Evolution of X-Ray Binaries on Cosmological Timescales". You can read his full presentation abstract here

Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum
This August, faculty, postdocs, and staff from CIERA, NU's School of Education, and OSEP will run a workshop for 6th-12th grade math, science, CTE and CS teachers to support them in incorporating computational thinking learning modules into their STEM classroom curricula.

President Schapiro, Mayor Tisdahl Visit Reach for the Stars
Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro and Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl got a glimpse of the benefits of a unique new collaboration between the University and local schools this week. They watched Northwestern graduate students teach Evanston Township High School (ETHS) students about cutting-edge scientific research as part of Northwestern's Reach for the Stars program in local schools. Continue reading at the SESP website

CIERA Featured in Big Ten Network video
CIERA's research into black holes has been featured in a video produced for the Big Ten Network. In the clip, a look is given to both the teaching and research aspects of CIERA. Professor Vicky Kalogera and Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, along with graduate students Francesca Valsecchi and Meagan Morscher, offer insight into the stellar phenomenum known as black holes. Graduate student Ben Farr is profiled for his work in teaching students at Evanston Township Highschool about black holes as part of his work with the Reach for the Stars! program.

APRIL 2011


Professor Mel Ulmer's US/France Collaboration DAFT/FADAS has been awarded an $850k grant
The Dark Energy American French Team/French American Dark Energy Team jointly led by Professor Ulmer, Prof. Doug Clowe (Ohio State University), and Christophe Adami (LAM/Université de Provence) in France has been awarded an $850k grant from NASA's Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences/Astrophysics Research and Enabling Technologies. The primary goal of the project is to make a geometrical determination of the nature of Dark Energy, using weak lensing tomography, applied to the background galaxies around the clusters.

Astro Group Graduate Students Receive NSF Fellowships
Ben Farr and Carl Rodriguez, two students in Vicky Kalogera's research group have been accepted into the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. To learn more about their research, click on their portraits or abstract title below.
Ben Farr
Carl Rodriguez

Astronomy Undergraduate Awarded Northwestern Research Grant
Daniel Stevens has been awarded a Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grant for Summer 2011. The grant is awarded in support of outstanding and novel research projects of a student's own design. Daniel is a junior pursuing a major in Physics and Astronomy and in Mathematics and does research in Prof. Kalogera's group. 

Astronomy Undergraduate Awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
Kyle Kremer has received a 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of two awarded to Northwestern undergraduates. Each year this prize scholarship recognizes the 300 most outstanding undergraduate students pursuing careers in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Engineering in the United States. Kyle is a junior pursuing a major in Physics and Astronomy and in Music Performance (trumpet) and does research on compact objects in binary systems in Prof. Kalogera's group.

MARCH 2011


2011 CIERA Fellows
We are pleased to announce Adrian Barker, Will Farr, and Elizabeth Hicks as our CIERA Fellows for 2011.

Evghenii Gaburov Selected as a NASA Hubble Fellow

Evghenii Gaburov has been selected as a NASA Hubble Fellow in January 2011, with CIERA as his host instutition.



Flip for Physics grant, awarded February 2011.
Flip for Physics provides the infrastructure and materials for students to videotape the research done in Northwestern University physics labs, Fermi Lab, Argonne National Lab, and Underwriters Laboratory. The students also interview one of the lab's scientists. The goal is to support student interest in science career paths and dispel some of the stereotypes and myths about 'who is a scientist?'. Through editing their video and interacting with other student groups through the 'Flip for Physics' wiki, the project also supports students in developing 21st century digital media skills and new media literacies. The final videos are entered into a competition (with Flip cameras as the prize), are posted on each labs' website, and are used in an educational campaign. The first competition is currently underway, with 4 different schools participating and 6 different labs.
Click here for more information.

FALL 2009


"Heavens Above and Beyond: The Dearborn Observatory and CIERA", by Joan Naper
Profs. Vicky Kalogera, Dave Meyer, and Fred Rasio, have created the new Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), which started in September. CIERA will be based in the historic Dearborn Observatory. Click on the image above for the full article, produced by the Northwestern University Office of Research.

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