Department News: 2018
Congratulations to Al Harper
April 12, 2018
Prof. Doyal "Al" Harper, Director of Yerkes Observatory
Al Harper will receive the Norman Maclean Faculty Award.

The award honors "extraordinary contributions of senior faculty to teaching and to the student experience of life within the University community."

Al will receive the award during Alumni Weekend in June, and he will be recognized at the June Convocation.

Please join me in congratulating Al.

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

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Doyal ''Al'' Harper

Paolo Privitera has been awarded an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council
April 9, 2018
Prof. Paolo Privitera
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Paolo Privitera has been awarded a 4 M$ Advanced Grant by the European Research Council to search for light dark matter particles with DAMIC. DArk Matter In CCDs experiment (DAMIC) is designed to detect the tiny signals produced by the interaction of dark matter with the bulk silicon of ~mm-thick charge-coupled devices. The kg-size DAMIC detector to be installed at the Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane in France will search for low-mass dark matter particles with unprecedented sensitivity. The European Research Council "selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality to run projects based in Europe", with Principal Investigators of Advanced Grants identified as "exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions."

Related:
Department members: Paolo Privitera
Scientific projects: Dark Matter In CCDs

Congratulations to Nora Shipp!
April 5, 2018
Nora Shipp, graduate student
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Nora won the DOE SCGSR Fellowship and a URA Visiting Scholars Program award to work with Fermilab scientists on using stellar streams to learn about dark matter in the Milky Way.

"Nora Shipp has carried out an analysis of the wide-field distribution of stars in the Dark Energy Survey (DES) footprint on the sky and identified several known stellar streams and discovered new streams. Stellar streams are an "archeological" record of the accretion history of the Milky Way and can be used as probes of properties of dark matter and of the Milky Way gravitational potential.

This project resulted in a paper that presented one of the most spectacular scientific results of the first year DES data and the results were a subject of a number of press releases and were widely covered in the media. In collaboration with DES scientists at Fermilab, Nora is continuing to characterize the streams analyzed in the DES and is planning to search for gaps in the streams and to model them using techniques developed by a former KICP student, Denis Erkal, as part of his postdoc work with Vasily Belokurov at Cambridge. Nora also plans to carry out N-body simulations for more detailed modeling of the streams. This program can potentially provide a new and unique probe of existence of dark matter clumps of mass $approx 10^6-10^7$ solar masses in the Milky Way, thereby constraining properties of dark matter itself, and to constrain properties of the Milky Way potential itself. DoE and URA fellowships that Nora received will help to carry out the first stages of this longer term PhD thesis program."

- Andrey Kravtsov, scientific advisor

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Nora Shipp

UChicago activities at Yerkes Observatory to end in 2018
March 7, 2018
Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis.
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The University of Chicago has announced plans to wind down its activities at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., over the next six months and to formally cease on-site operations by Oct. 1, 2018.

"Science at Yerkes in the 20th century led to key discoveries and advances in the field of astronomy, when the observatory helped build the foundation for modern astrophysics," said Edward (Rocky) Kolb, dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences and a professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. "It is an important part of the history of the University, and we hope it will become, in some form, a valuable resource to the surrounding community and visitors to the Lake Geneva area."

Read more

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

Congratulations to Dan Hooper
March 5, 2018
Prof. Dan Hooper
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Please join me in congratulating Dan Hooper on his promotion to Professor [part-time] in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Congratulations Dan!

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

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Dan Hooper

Henry Luce Foundation Grant to Support Science Professorships for Women
February 27, 2018
Clare Boothe Luce
Photo courtesy of the National Archives
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A grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will support an initiative to significantly increase the gender diversity of faculty members across the Physical Sciences Division by 2023.

The five-year, $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will fund three Clare Boothe Luce Professorships for women in the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics. Additional financial and programmatic support from the Physical Sciences Division and the Office of the Provost will ensure the success of the three new faculty members at the University.

"We are proud to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation and the Office of the Provost to support women in fields where they are underrepresented," said Dean Rocky Kolb. "Supporting faculty from a range of backgrounds will increase the rigor of our science, foster new approaches and ideas and enable more discoveries."

"The Clare Boothe Luce grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will enable the University to build on its commitment to provide a supportive environment for women in STEM," said Young-Kee Kim, Chairperson and the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Physics.

Clare Boothe Luce, the widow of Henry R. Luce, was a playwright, journalist, ambassador to Italy, and the first woman elected to the US Congress from the state of Connecticut. The Clare Boothe Luce program, established at the Luce Foundation in 1987, offers research awards and tuition support to prepare young women to study and teach in the STEM disciplines, as well as five-year professorships for women early in their academic careers.

The Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Department of Physics will immediately begin searches for Clare Boothe Luce Assistant or Associate Professors. More information about the positions can be found at the University of Chicago academic careers website:
  • Assistant Professor in Physics
  • Associate Professor in Physics
  • Assistant Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Associate Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination. Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-0287 or email ACOppAdministratoruchicago.edu with their request.

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

Joshua Frieman will become the Head of Particle Physics Division at Fermilab
February 19, 2018
Prof. Joshua Frieman
Joshua A. Frieman, Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, will become the Head of Particle Physics Division (PPD) at Fermilab on April 1, 2018. "Josh's scientific stature and deep understanding of the interconnected nature of particle physics will make him a strong advocate for the broad program of exciting research tied to the lab," said Joe Lykken, Fermilab's Deputy Director. As Head of PPD, Frieman will oversee the Lab's involvement in the CMS experiment at CERN's LHC, all its astrophysics activities, the muon program and the Lab's theory groups, and new technology development, engineering and technical support for particle physics research. UChicago partners in many of Fermilab's astrophysics programs, including the Dark Energy Survey, which is led by Frieman, several dark-matter experiments, and the SPT-3G and CMB-S4 cosmic microwave background experiments. "All of us wish Josh well in this important leadership position at Fermilab, and we look forward to working with him to further strengthen ties between UChicago and Fermilab," said Michael Turner, Bruce V. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor. Frieman, whose UChicago appointment dates back to 1989, added, "while my primary focus will be shaping and ensuring Fermilab's bright future, I will also maintain my UChicago connections, albeit a reduced level for the next few years."

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman, Michael S. Turner
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey, South Pole Telescope

Congratulations to Dr. Zubair Abdulla!
February 8, 2018
Dr. Zubair Abdulla
Congratulations to Dr. Zubair Abdulla for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Sunyaev Zel'dovich Effect Observations of X-ray Cavities in Galaxy Clusters".

"Zubair has done it all, from building 10 ultra-sensitive receivers, commissioning them on CARMA, developing the data reduction pipeline, to imaging and analyzing the first Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect imaging of x-ray cavities in galaxy clusters. His thesis places tight constraints on the nature of plasma within the cavities and mechanisms for heating of the inter cluster medium."
- John Carlstrom, Ph.D. advisor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Zubair Abdulla

2018 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research Awarded to Eugene Parker
February 2, 2018
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On February 1, 2018 in Washington, DC, the American Physical Society awarded the 2018 Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research to Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. Parker, 90, is recognized for his "many fundamental contributions to space physics, plasma physics, solar physics and astrophysics for over 60 years."

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Department members: Eugene N. Parker

The 2017 Science Magazine Breakthrough of the Year
January 4, 2018
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The Prof. Daniel Holz and his research group and the Dark Energy Survey, led by the Prof. Joshua Frieman played key roles in the discovery of a pair of coalescing neutron stars, the 2017 Science Magazine Breakthrough of the Year.

Learn More

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman, Daniel E. Holz
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory

Open faculty positions
January 1, 2018
The Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Department of Physics at The University of Chicago are conducting open searches at the rank of Assistant and Associate Professor. We welcome applications from candidates across all areas. A goal of these searches is to increase the diversity of the faculty. We particularly welcome applicants who come from groups that are historically underrepresented in our disciplines, such as women, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, or Alaskan Native. Women will be considered for a Clare Booth Luce Professorship supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Applicants must apply online through the University of Chicago academic careers websites upload a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a statement of research, a statement of teaching philosophy, and contact information for at least three references. Review of applications will begin on January 15, 2018. Full consideration will be given to applications completed by February 15, 2018.

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity / Disabled / Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.