Three CIERA Postdocs Win NSF Fellowships for Scientific & Educational Programs
CIERA postdoctoral researchers Kyle Kremer, Patrick Sheehan, and Sarah Wellons have each won 3-year awards in the National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship (NSF AAPF) program.
The NSF AAPF program provides a unique opportunity for awardees, of which there are only a handful each year, to carry out self-designed integrated programs of independent research and outreach/education at a host institution of their choice. Kremer will take his fellowship to Caltech and Carnegie Observatories, while Sheehan and Wellons will continue at Northwestern. The program is intended to recognize early-career investigators of significant potential and to provide them with experience in research and education that will establish them in positions of distinction and leadership in the scientific community.
With three fellows in 2020, CIERA ranks first in the nation, tied with Carnegie Observatories and University of Chicago, as host institution for NSF and NASA national postdoctoral fellowships (as Kremer takes his award to Carnegie, Northwestern gains Maya Fishbach, NASA Einstein Fellow). CIERA also ranks in the top 12 of 43 host institutions by number of fellows since 2016. Three out of eight NSF AAPF awardees for 2020 were from CIERA.
Congratulations, Kyle, Patrick, and Sarah!
Visit the NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows website to learn more.
Modeling Black Hole Dynamics in Dense Star Clusters in the Era of LIGO, LISA, and LSST
Kyle will work to decipher the channels through which the gravitational wave sources detected by LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA form, with a specific focus on the role of black hole dynamics in dense star clusters.
The fellowship will also support Kyle’s work through his Cosmos in Concert program that CIERA has helped support over the past few years. The Cosmos in Concert program of multimedia shows combining astronomy education and music performance has successfully presented 16 concerts in 6 states, and will be extended to the southern California area with performances at K-12 schools and universities, and with local symphony orchestras.
Demographics of the Youngest Protostars and their Disks
Patrick will study the structures and physical properties of protostellar disks, which are formed when clouds of gas and dust in space collapse to form young stars. Observational evidence suggests that planets and their precursors are formed very early during the onset of star formation, and the results from this project will allow astronomers to understand just how soon planet formation begins, and what conditions are present when it does.
Patrick will direct the CIERA High School Summer Research Experience in Astronomy program at Northwestern, a highly-interactive, small-cohort program that provides exposure to real astronomy research experiences for high school students, an atmosphere of team-style learning, hands-on training, and individual mentorship and advising. The funding from this fellowship will enable the program to expand its reach to underprivileged students and underrepresented minorities.
Simulating the Extraordinary Life and Death of High-Redshift Galaxies
Sarah will study the formation of the most massive galaxies in the very distant Universe which formed in the first few billion years after the Big Bang. She will use state-of-the-art numerical simulations of galaxy formation to explore the relationship between massive galaxies and the supermassive black holes that they host, and to learn how these galaxies acquire the extreme physical properties that make them so different from galaxies in the local Universe.
Sarah will be working with the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) to develop and teach an astronomy course at the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison outside of Chicago. NPEP is the only degree-granting liberal arts program operating in prisons in Illinois at the college level, and this course will provide a much-needed boost to the STEM side of their curriculum.