Department News
Congratulations to Prof. Joshua Frieman!
April 20, 2016
Prof. 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

Department members: Joshua A. Frieman, Michael S. Turner

Congratulations to Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kaurov!
March 29, 2016
Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kaurov
Congratulations to Alexander (Sasha) Kaurov for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Challenges in theoretical modeling of cosmic reionization."

"Dr. Alexander Kaurov's work on studying cosmic reionization - the process of ionization of the bulk of cosmic gas by ultraviolet radiation from the first stars and quasars - was instrumental in combining diverse theoretical concepts into a single, unified paradigm that connects directly with modern state-of-the-art numerical simulations. This breakthrough will have numerous practical applications for the analysis and interpretation of the forthcoming observational data from the future James Webb Space Telescope, Giant Magellan Telescope, and radio observations of the epoch when the first galaxies lit up."
- Nickolay Y. Gnedin, Ph.D. advisor

Alexander has received a position at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, NJ.

Department members: Nickolay Y. Gnedin
Department students: Alexander A. Kaurov

Life Long Learning program
March 9, 2016
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.

Department members: Manos Chatzopoulos, Daniel Fabrycky, Michael D. Gladders, Daniel Grin, Richard G. Kron, Stephan S. Meyer
Department students: Megan Bedell, Sean Johnson, Laura Kreidberg

Wendy Freedman wins the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for 2016
January 5, 2016
Wendy Freedman, John & Marion Sullivan University Professor
Congratulations to University Professor Wendy Freedman for being awarded the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for 2016!

Citation: "For her outstanding contributions and leadership role in using optical and infrared space- and ground-based observations of Cepheid stars, together with innovative analysis techniques, to greatly improve the accuracy of the cosmic distance scale and thereby constrain fundamental cosmological parameters."

Department members: Wendy Freedman

Erik Shirokoff has received a NSF CAREER award
December 22, 2015
Congratulations to Assistant Professor 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.

Department members: Erik Shirokoff

Sean Johnson and Laura Kreidberg have won AAS Doxsey Travel Prizes
November 12, 2015
Congratulations to Sean Johnson and Laura Kreidberg for winning AAS Doxsey Travel Prizes!

"Dear Doxsey Prize Winner,
On behalf of AAS President Dr. C. Megan Urry and AAS Executive Officer Dr. Kevin B. Marvel, congratulations! You are among the 9 winners of the Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize for the AAS's 227th meeting in Kissimmee, FL. This prize, which was enabled by generous donations from Rodger Doxsey's family, friends, and colleagues to honor Rodger's memory and lifetime achievements, is given annually for our winter meeting. We will highlight your dissertation presentation in the meeting program book and in other meeting-related materials."
- American Astronomical Society

Department members: Jacob L. Bean, Hsiao-Wen Chen
Department students: Sean Johnson, Laura Kreidberg

Prof. Richard Kron is the new Assistant Chair for Academic Affairs
September 24, 2015
Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to announce that Prof. Richard Kron will become the new Assistant Chair for Academic Affairs, starting October 1, 2015. Rich will continue to lead the implementation of the new AstroU program for undergraduates as well as oversee the success of the careers of our graduate students. Rich will have the support of Dr. Julia Borst Brazas as our new part-time Academic Affairs Administrator, who will also serve as the Assistant to the Assistant Chair for Academic Affairs. Ms. Laticia Rebeles will continue to work closely with our graduate and undergraduate students, and with Julia and Rich, in her role as the full-time Student Affairs Administrator.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Prof. Michael Gladders who, in addition to his other duties, has provided great leadership as Assistant Chair for Academic Affairs. Mike finished implementing the reorganization of the graduate curriculum and spearheaded the development of the Astro Core sequences in the College. He also effectively shepherded our graduate students into completing their theses efficiently and preparing for a productive postdoctoral career. Please join me in thanking Mike for his service and congratulating Rich as he assumes his new responsibilities.

Angela V. Olinto,
Homer J. Livingston Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Department members: Julia Borst Brazas, Michael D. Gladders, Richard G. Kron, Angela V. Olinto, Laticia Rebeles

John Carlstrom has received 2015 Gruber Cosmology Prize
August 6, 2015
The 2015 Gruber Cosmology Prize awards ceremony was held at the opening session of the XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Honolulu, which included speeches by NSF Director France Cordova; David, Ige, the Governor of Hawaii; Kirk Caldwell, Mayor of Honolulu; and the IAU General Secretary, Thierry Montmerle. In the accompanying photo, Prof. of Astronomy & Astrophysics John Carlstrom is awarded his portion of the prize from Wendy Freedman (UChicago University Professor, previous Gruber Prize winner and Chair of the Gruber Advisory Committee). Patricia Gruber, Chairwoman of the Board of the Gruber Foundation is at the Podium. Carlstrom's co-winners of this year's prize, Jeremiah Ostriker (UChicago PhD '64) and Lyman Page share the stage.

Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Wendy Freedman
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope

Congratulations to Dr. Louis Abramson!
July 13, 2015
Congratulations to Louis Abramson for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Assessing and Understanding Diversity in Galaxy Star Formation Histories."

"Dr. Louis Abramson is an expert on the observation and phenomenological modeling of galaxy evolution, with a particular focus on the relationship between bulk statistical observables of galaxies, such as the distributions of star-formation-rate and mass over cosmic time, and the star formation histories of galaxies. His work during his Ph.D. has led to several new insights into the relationship between the passive (i.e., bulges) and actively star-forming components of galaxies, and led to a clear understanding that the scatter of galaxies across the so-called 'star forming main-sequence' is a critical observable to consider in further analyses, which he will continue as a postdoc at UCLA."
- Michael D. Gladders, Ph.D. advisor

Louis has received a Postdoctoral Scholar at the UCLA Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Department members: Michael D. Gladders
Department students: Louis Abramson

Laura Kreidberg wins a Harper Dissertation Fellowship
June 12, 2015
Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating Laura Kreidberg for winning a William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowship for the 2015-16 academic year. One of the University of Chicago's highest honors, the award recognizes significant achievement during graduate studies and professional promise.

Congratulations Laura!

Angela V. Olinto,
Homer J. Livingston Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Department members: Jacob L. Bean, Angela V. Olinto
Department students: Laura Kreidberg

Congratulations to Dr. Ke Fang!
June 11, 2015
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.

Department members: Angela V. Olinto
Department students: Ke Fang

Congratulations to Dr. Benedikt Diemer!
June 11, 2015
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.

Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Benedikt Diemer

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Helsby!
June 11, 2015
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.

Department members: Joshua A. Frieman
Department students: Jennifer Helsby
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey

Congratulations to Prof. Wendy Freedman!
June 10, 2015
Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that following approval by the Board of Trustees, Wendy Freedman has been named the John and Marion Sullivan University Professorship effective July 1, 2015.

Please join me in congratulating Wendy on this honor, which recognizes outstanding contribution to scholarship, teaching, and the intellectual community of the University.


Rocky Kolb
Dean of the Physical Sciences
The University of Chicago

Department members: Wendy Freedman, Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb

Cameron Jia Liang has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
June 3, 2015
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.

Department members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
Department students: Cameron Jia Liang

Congratulations to Dr. Vinicius Miranda Braganca!
June 2, 2015
Congratulations to Vinicius Miranda Braganca 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.

Department members: Wayne Hu
Department students: Vinicius Miranda Braganca

Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Student Research
June 2, 2015
The Enrico Fermi Institute Announces the winners of the 24th Annual Nathan Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research:
  • 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."

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.

Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov, Donald Q. Lamb
Department students: Hsin-Yu Chen, Benedikt Diemer

Angela Olinto wins a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
June 1, 2015
Dear Colleagues,

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.

Rocky Kolb
Dean of the Physical Sciences Division

Department members: Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb, Angela V. Olinto