Department News

Fakhri Zahedy has received a prestigious Carnegie Postdoctoral fellowship
April 8, 2019
Fakhri Zahedy has received a prestigious Carnegie Postdoctoral fellowship to start in the fall of 2019. The position is for three years.

The Carnegie Fellowship is intended to encourage long-term research in observational or theoretical astrophysics and/or instrumentation. The fellowships are extremely competitive, and are prized for their independence and for the resources they afford the fellows. Each fellow is key to ehnancing the Carnegie mission and expanding Carnegie's influence of unfettered, imaginative scientific research into the next generations.

Related:
Department members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
Department students: Fakhri Zahedy

Vadim Semenov was selected for the prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP)
April 8, 2019
Vadim will be taking Hubble fellowship to the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) at Harvard. After 3 years of the Hubble fellowship he will continue there as an ITC fellow, position he was also offered as part of the process.

The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Vadim Semenov

Donald York has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Service Award for Astronomy
January 13, 2019
Prof. Donald G. York
Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating Don York who has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Service Award for Astronomy.

The RAS citation reads:
"Professor Donald York, as the Founding Director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), was a key figure in the conception, design, construction, and initial operation of one of the most successful astronomical facilities of the 21st century. With its first-ever digital image of the entire northern high galactic latitude sky, homogeneously and painstakingly calibrated in a novel photometric system, plus millions of homogeneously obtained spectra, SDSS has touched every subfield of astronomy.

Multiple studies agree that SDSS is the most cited and most impactful facility in ground-based astronomy, or even all astronomy. More than 7,600 papers refer to SDSS in the title or abstract, and these publications have garnered roughly 400,000 citations. Twenty-five of these papers have 1,000 or more citations, and almost 800 have 100 or more citations.

Professor York enabled one of the most significant astronomical projects of our lifetimes, one that benefits the entire international community, and is a truly deserving recipient of the RAS Service Award."

Congratulations Don!

John Carlstrom,
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Donald G. York

Adina Feinstein helped discover a planet, K2-288Bb
January 9, 2019
Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago grad student, helped discover a planet, K2-288Bb, pictured at right in an artist's rendering. It orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. | Provided/Benjamin Montet; NASA's Goddard Space FlightCenter/Francis Reddy
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"Citizen Scientists Find New World with NASA Telescope", JPL News
Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star's habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet's surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system.

"It's a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon," said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student who discussed the discovery on Monday, Jan. 7, at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. She is also the lead author of a paper describing the new planet accepted for publication by The Astronomical Journal.

"U of C grad student helps discover a planet", by Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times

"University of Chicago Astronomer Adina Feinstein finds a new planet", by Elifgeriswgnam, wgnradio.com

Related:
Department students: Adina Feinstein

Congratulations to Fei Xu
January 2, 2019
Fei Xu, graduate student
Please join me in congratulating Fei Xu on her receipt of the Elaine K. Bernstein Women in Science Award.

Congratulations Fei!

John Carlstrom,
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Fei Xu

Congratulations to Wayne Hu
January 2, 2019
Prof. Wayne Hu
Please join me in congratulating Wayne Hu on his appointment as the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor.

Congratulations Wayne!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Read more

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Wayne Hu

Nancy Grace Roman, "mother" of the Hubble Telescope, dies aged 93
January 2, 2019
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Dear Colleagues,

I am sad to inform you that Nancy Grace Roman died on Christmas Day at the age of 93.

She received her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at UChicago in in 1949. Dr. Roman stayed on as a postdoc, instructor, and then joined the faculty as an assistant professor, becoming the first woman on the department's faculty. Not believing the university would tenure her, she left for a position with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC and was then recruited to the newly established NASA, where she served as the Chief of the Astronomy and Relativity Programs in the NASA Office of Space Science.

Dr. Roman had enormous impact on Astronomy and Astrophysics. She is particularly well known for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope and is often referred to as the "Mother of Hubble". Dr. Roman was also a strong advocate for women in the sciences.

As many of you know, the A&A department has decided to name the seminar and instruction room ERC 583 after Nancy Grace Roman to recognize her outstanding scientific career, her extraordinary leadership at NASA, and her decades of work as an advocate for inclusion in science. In her reply to our request to name the room after her, she said she was honored and included, "I hope that naming a room for a woman will encourage your female students. Astronomy needs more diversity."

The plans for renovating ERC 583 are proceeding, including her image on the glass wall and several improvements to the room.

You can learn more about Nancy Grace Roman's life in an article she wrote for ASP "Nancy Roman: An Astronomer's Life" and in a recent UChicago Magazine article "A wider scope".

Sincerely,
John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom

MAROON-X at Gemini-N telescope
December 12, 2018
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Congratulations to Andreas Seifahrt and Julian Stürmer on the installation and first light of the MAROON-X front end unit on the Gemini-N telescope!

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean, Andreas Seifahrt, Julian Stuermer
Scientific projects: MAROON-X: M dwarf Advanced Radial velocity Observer Of Neighboring eXoplanets

Detection of helium in the escaping atmosphere of an exoplanet
December 7, 2018
Artist's impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b and its host star. [Harvard Center for Astrophysics/D. Aguilar]
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University of Chicago astronomers Megan Mansfield and Jacob Bean present observations of the escaping atmosphere of a Neptune-size exoplanet.

Read more

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean

Response to Claims On Gender and Physics
October 13, 2018
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We reject the recent claims on gender and physics by Alessandro Strumia. Our Departments and Institute believe that diversity is essential to the health of our fields and to advancing our science. We reaffirm our commitment to making our communities more diverse and to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment. All the members of a community share the responsibility for its climate, and so we welcome suggestions on how to improve ours.

John E. Carlstrom, Chair, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Young-Kee Kim, Chair, Department of Physics
Michael S. Turner, Director, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

UChicago now offers major in astrophysics
October 2, 2018
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Scientists at the University of Chicago have been unraveling the secrets of the far-flung universe for more than a century, but starting in 2018-19, undergraduates will be able to formally declare a major in astrophysics.

"I am thrilled to see the astrophysics major come to fruition and the interest that it has already generated," said Angela Olinto, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences. "We know our students are proud of the department's incredible legacy in the field, and we are delighted to deepen that connection with a formal major."

Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorships Announced in Astronomy & Astrophysics
October 1, 2018
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The Physical Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation and the Office of the Provost, has named the first Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professors: Chihway Chang and Irina Zhuravleva of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

"We are delighted to name Chihway Chang and Irina Zhuravleva as Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professors," said John Carlstrom, chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. "They are science communicators and researchers of the highest caliber and will contribute their unique and complementary strengths to the department."

Related:
Department members: Chihway Chang, Irina Zhuravleva

Josh Frieman became President Elect of the Aspen Center for Physics
August 27, 2018
Prof. Josh Frieman
Prof. Josh Frieman recently became President Elect of the Aspen Center for Physics. In a year's time, Josh will become President of the Center for a three-year term. The Aspen Center for Physics is well known for hosting cutting-edge, multi-week workshops in the summer and intensive one-week conferences in winter. Typically, 500-600 physicists visit every summer, for workshops, for smaller working groups, and to carry out individual research in a unique setting.

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman

Cosmic rays help supernovae shape galaxies
August 6, 2018
A&A grad student Rebecca Diesing and her advisor, Prof. Damiano Caprioli, have published a paper about how cosmic rays help supernovae shape galaxies. A summary is below and the paper can be found here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.09731

"Supernova explosions play a significant role in the formation and evolution of galaxies by injecting energy and momentum into the interstellar medium. However, the momentum yields predicted for single explosions are not enough to produce simulated galaxies that are consistent with observations. The cosmic rays accelerated by supernova remnants may solve this problem. We find that pressure from cosmic rays helps supernova remnants survive longer, allowing them to deposit two to five times more momentum in the interstellar medium."

Congratulations to Brad Benson
July 26, 2018
Bradford A. Benson
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Please join me in congratulating Brad Benson on his promotion from Associate Scientist to Scientist at Fermilab. The Scientist appointment is parallel to that of an Associate Professor with tenure at a university.

Congratulations Brad!

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: Bradford A. Benson, John E. Carlstrom

Congratulations to Mike Gladders
July 25, 2018
Prof. Michael D. Gladders
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Please join me in congratulating Mike Gladders on his promotion to the rank of Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Congratulations Mike!

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Michael D. Gladders

Congratulations to Dr. Ross Cawthon
July 18, 2018
Dr. Ross Cawthon
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Congratulations to Ross Cawthon for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Effects of Redshift Uncertainty on Cross-Correlations of CMB Lensing and Galaxy Surveys".

Ross has received a position of Research Associate at the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman
Department students: Ross Cawthon
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey, South Pole Telescope

Congratulations to Irina Zhuravleva
June 28, 2018
Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report that Irina Zhuravleva will join the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics as an Assistant Professor starting October 1, 2018.

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Irina Zhuravleva

Honoring Rocky Kolb for his service as Dean of the Physical Sciences
June 27, 2018
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President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier hosted a reception honoring Rocky Kolb for his service as Dean of the Physical Sciences Division. Friends, colleagues, and family all celebrated his many successes and wished him well as he returns to being a full-time faculty member at the Department.

Related:
Department members: Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb

Congratulations to Dr. Ian Remming
June 20, 2018
Dr.Ian Remming
Congratulations to Dr. Ian Remming for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "The Propagation of Flame Fronts Through Inhomogeneously Magnetized Plasma".

Related:
Department members: Fausto Cattaneo, Alexei M. Khokhlov
Department students: Ian Remming

Congratulations to Daniel Holz
June 18, 2018
Prof. Dan Holz
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Please join me in congratulating Dan Holz on his promotion to Full Professor.

Congratulations Dan!

John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Daniel E. Holz

Congratulations to Dr. Cameron Liang
June 15, 2018
Dr. Cameron Liang
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Congratulations to Dr. Cameron Liang for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Multiphase Gaseous Halos around Galaxies".

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Cameron Jia Liang

NASA has selected the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission as the fifth mission in the Solar Terrestrial Probes program
June 11, 2018
NASA has selected the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission as the fifth mission in the Solar Terrestrial Probes program. IMAP will investigate the interactions between the heliosphere and surrounding interstellar cloud. The heliosphere, a protective plasma bubble around the solar system, is altered by the solar journey through interstellar clouds. Interstellar neutral atoms grab energy from the expanding solar wind plasma and create new and different particles that reveal our galactic neighborhood and will be measured by IMAP. Among them are energetic neutral atoms that trace the IBEX ribbon, which arises from the draping of the interstellar magnetic field over the heliosphere. Other IMAP instruments sample interstellar atoms directly, including high energy particles seeded by neutral atoms from the interstellar medium, and low energy interstellar atoms that describe the velocity of the heliosphere through the interstellar cloud. IMAP data will probe our immediate galactic neighborhood. IMAP is scheduled for launch in 2024 and is led by Professor David McComas at Princeton University. Research Professor Priscilla Frisch in the Astronomy Department is a member of the IMAP team.

Angela V. Olinto has been appointed Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences
June 7, 2018
Angela V. Olinto, Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College
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We are pleased to announce that Angela V. Olinto, Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College, has been appointed Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences, effective July 1, 2018.

Angela brings depth of University experience and scholarly expertise to this leadership role, making her an excellent choice as dean. She joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1996, and served as chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics from 2003 to 2006, and from 2012 to 2017. Her research interests are in astroparticle physics and cosmology. Recently, she has focused on understanding the origin of high-energy cosmic rays, gamma rays, and neutrinos.

Angela's leadership has extended to large and complex projects. She is the leader of the POEMMA and EUSO space missions and a member of the Pierre Auger Observatory. These international projects aim to discover the origin of high-energy cosmic rays. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was chair of the APS Division of Astrophysics in 2013. She was a trustee of the Aspen Center for Physics, and serves on many advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and NASA. Among numerous other awards and honors, Angela received the Chaire d'Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche in 2006, the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011, and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring in 2015.

Angela's appointment was informed by the recommendations of an elected committee of faculty in the Division of the Physical Sciences, chaired by Stuart A. Kurtz, Professor in the Department of Computer Science. We want to express our appreciation to the committee for their thoughtful work and their commitment to the Division of the Physical Sciences.

We would also like to thank Rocky Kolb for his leadership of the Division of the Physical Sciences over the past five years. Under Rocky's leadership, the Division of the Physical Sciences built important initiatives, enhancing its historic strengths as a leading center of scientific discovery and education, and expanded and renovated the Physics Research Center. Rocky will be returning to his full-time work on the faculty at the end of his term as Dean.

Please join us in congratulating Angela on this appointment and thanking Rocky for his service.

Robert J. Zimmer, President, and Daniel Diermeier, Provost

Related:
Department members: Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb, Angela V. Olinto
Scientific projects: Extreme Universe Space Observatory at the Japanese Module, Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon, Pierre Auger Observatory

Congratulations to Chihway Chang
May 29, 2018
Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report that Chihway Chang will be an Assistant Professor with the Astronomy & Astrophysics Department and a senior member of the KICP, starting October 1, 2018.

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Chihway Chang

Fakhri Zahedy wins a Harper Dissertation Fellowship
May 21, 2018
Congratulations to Fakhri Zahedy for winning a Harper Dissertation Fellowship. The intent of the award is two-fold: to recognize significant achievement and to facilitate completion of the doctoral degree. This award, one of the University of Chicago's highest honors, recognizes significant achievement during graduate studies and professional promise.

Related:
Department members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
Department students: Fakhri Zahedy

Adler Planetarium's "Fabric of the Universe" display
May 14, 2018
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Former garduate student (and current Harvard postdoc) Benedikt Diemer has collaborated with Isaac Facio from the Art Institute to create the Adler Planetarium's new "Fabric of the Universe" display.

Related:
Department students: Benedikt Diemer