KICP News



 
Dan Scolnic Competes in Famelab national finals
May 18, 2016
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic
KICP Fellow Dan Scolnic recently competed in the Finals of Famelab in Washington DC. Dan competed against 9 other winners of regional finals. Dan spoke on “The Expanding Universe and why he isn’t a professional basketball player.” His presentation covered the current mismatch in cosmological parameters derived from measurements of the CMB vs. those derived from measurements of distant Type Ia supernovae and what that tension might mean for the standard model of cosmology.

FameLab USA is a NASA-sponsored, science-based take on American Idol, aimed at fostering an open community for science communication and development.

Read more >>

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Scolnic
 
Wayne Hu elected to the National Academy of Sciences
May 3, 2016
Wayne Hu elected to the National Academy of Sciences
News from the National Academy of Sciences

Wayne Hu is a senior member of the KICP and the Horace B. Horton Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Enrico Fermi Institute, and the College. His research focuses on the theory and phenomenology of structure formation in the Universe as revealed in Cosmic Microwave Background anisotropies, gravitational lensing, galaxy clustering and galaxy clusters.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
 
Congratulations to Joshua Frieman!
April 20, 2016
Congratulations to 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,
Director of the PFC and KICP

Read more >>

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman; Michael S. Turner
 
Life Long Learning program
March 9, 2016
Life Long Learning program
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Michael D. Gladders; Daniel Grin; Jason Henning; Daniel E. Holz; Richard G. Kron; Andrew J. Long; Stephan S. Meyer; Daniel Scolnic
KICP Students: Sean Johnson; Brittany Kamai
 
KICP celebrates an historic day in science
February 15, 2016



KICP and LIGO collaboration members Daniel Holz, Ben Farr, Hsin-Yu Chen, and Zoheyr Doctor shared the excitement of the discovery of Gravitational Waves with the rest of the KICP and Physical Sciences Division at a live stream event of the discovery press conference on February 11.




The crowd overflowed the ERC auditorium as students, faculty, and staff all clamored to hear the historic announcement. Upon hearing the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves, we did it!” the room broke into spontaneous applause. Following the press conference, Holz answered questions from the audience. Later that day, he expanded upon the announcement at an overflow Physics Colloquium.

LIGO press conference

Related Links:
KICP Members: Ben Farr; Daniel E. Holz
KICP Students: Hsin-Yu Chen; Zoheyr Doctor
 
The KICP will welcome 3 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2016
February 15, 2016
The KICP will welcome 3 new Fellows in the Autumn of 2016
Douglas Applegate received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and is currently at the University of Bonn, Germany. His research focuses on using weak gravitational lensing measurements of galaxy clusters to test cosmological models. At KICP, Douglas plans to continue his work with the South Pole Telescope and LSST Dark Energy Science collaborations.

Chihway Chang received her PhD at Stanford University where she studied the potential systematic effects in weak lensing measurements for the Large Synoptics Survey Telescope (LSST). She then ventured to Switzerland as a postdoc at ETH Zurich and worked on weak lensing data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES). At KICP, Chihway is interested in extending her current work and exploring the power of combining CMB data from SPT with DES.

Christopher Tunnell is involved in the XENON1T as the analysis coordinator and will be collaborating with Luca Grandi at KICP. Before coming to KICP, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Dutch particle-physics laboratory Nikhef where he researched light Dark Matter. He completed his doctorate at the University of Oxford on sterile-neutrino physics.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Luca Grandi
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES); South Pole Telescope (SPT); XENON1T
 
Chen He Wins Best Poster Prize at the "Essential Cosmology For Next Generations" conference
February 3, 2016
Chen He, KICP graduate student
Chen He, KICP graduate student
Congratulations to Chen He for being awarded the best poster prize at the conference Essential Cosmology for the Next Generations 2016. The poster presented work done with Wayne Hu and Daniel Grin on "Compensated Isocurvature Perturbations (CIP) in the Curvaton Model". The authors proposed to correlate CIPs with cosmic microwave background (CMB) anisotropies, and showed that with this technique, CMB-Stage 4 - a next-generation CMB experiment - would distinguish between curvaton decay scenarios by probing the largest CIP attainable in the curvaton model.

Chen He's work focuses on understanding fundamental physics in the early universe through cosmological observations of the cosmic microwave background.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Grin; Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Chen He
 
Searching for dark matter: Inside the Xenon1T detector
December 24, 2015
Michael Turner and Luca Grandi inside the Xenon1T detector.
Michael Turner and Luca Grandi inside the Xenon1T detector.
Michael Turner visited the Xenon1T a week after the XENON collaboration's inauguration and Luca Grandi, a member of the XENON Collaboration, took him "inside the Xenon1T detector" to see how it all works. XENON1T employs the ultra-pure noble gas xenon as dark matter detection material, cooled down to -95 degrees Celsius to make it liquid and the detector will be immersed in liquid Xenon in January. XEON1T's first results are expected in early 2016. The collaboration expects the instrument to achieve most of its objectives within two years of data collection. The researchers then will move their project into a new phase.

"Of course we want to detect the dark matter particle," Grandi said, "but even if we have only found some hints after two years, we are in an excellent position to move on as we are already now preparing the next step of the project, which will be the far more sensitive XENONnT."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Luca Grandi; Michael S. Turner
Scientific projects: XENON1T
 
Erik Shirokoff has received a NSF CAREER award
December 22, 2015
Erik Shirokoff has received a NSF CAREER award
Congratulations to KICP senior member 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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Erik Shirokoff
 
Congratulations to Dr. Lee McCuller!
October 30, 2015
Dr. Lee McCuller
Dr. Lee McCuller
Congratulations to Lee McCuller for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Testing a Model of Planck-Scale Quantum Geometry With Broadband Correlation of Colocated 40m Interferometers".

"Lee has been a central contributor to the design, construction, operation and analysis of the Holometer experiment. Lee designed and implemented the control system that maintains the power-recycling cavity locked to the laser and the interferometer differential arm length constant to better than than 1/2 Angstrom over their 40 meter length. His analysis of the system has lead to precise understanding of the instrument state including knowledge of the calibration and constraints on systematics."
- Stephan Meyer, Ph.D. advisor

Lee will be starting a post-doctoral position with the LIGO Gravitational-Wave observatory at their MIT laboratory.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Stephan S. Meyer
KICP Students: Lee McCuller
 
We've moved into the William Eckhardt Research Center (ERC)!
October 21, 2015


Our center of mass is the 4th floor of ERC, with some offices on the 3rd floor, labs on the 5th floor and LL1. We share the ERC with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Institute for Molecular Engineering. In addition to state-of-the-art laboratories and the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility, the building features a beautiful 150-seat auditorium looking out on the North Science Quad, seminar and meeting rooms and many interaction areas and the 5th floor Astro Lounge.

We said goodbye to LASR on September 11th and opened up operations in the ERC on the following Monday. We have already hosted two workshops, our annual Jamboree and the first two colloquia in our Future of Cosmological Physics series. And there is much more to come!


"Homebase" for the KICP is the NW corner of the building (angle left when getting out of the elevator), where the Director, Assistant Director, Assistant to the Director, Business Manager and Meeting Coordinator have their offices. Click here for a building seating plan.

Our mailing address remains almost the same:
Name, ERC office #, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, the University of Chicago, 5640 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637-1433.
 
Congratulations to Dr. Tyler Natoli!
September 29, 2015
Dr. Tyler Natoli
Dr. Tyler Natoli
Congratulations to Tyler Natoli for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "A Search for Transient Sources in the First 100 deg2 of SPTpol Data".

Tyler has received a Dunlap Fellow position with the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto.

Related Links:
KICP Members: John E. Carlstrom
KICP Students: Tyler Natoli
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope (SPT)
 
Congratulations to Dr. Jing Zhou!
September 1, 2015
Dr. Jing Zhou
Dr. Jing Zhou
Congratulations to Jing Zhou for successfully defending her Ph.D. dissertation on "Direct Dark Matter Detection with the DAMIC experiment at SNOLAB".

"Jing has made fundamental contributions to the DAMIC experiment in its crucial R&D phase. Her measurements of radiogenic backgrounds in silicon include novel powerful methods which make use of the excellent spatial resolution of the CCDs. These measurements put stringent limits on the presence of uranium and thorium and provide a first evidence for sizeable cosmogenic silicon 32 in the bulk of high-purity silicon, an important discovery for the present and next generation of dark matter silicon detectors. Also, she has measured the nuclear recoil ionization efficiency in silicon below 3 keV, an energy range so far unexplored and fundamental for the search of low mass WIMPs. The impact of these results goes beyond their application in DAMIC, and will influence any WIMP detector based on silicon."
- Paolo Privitera, Ph.D. advisor

Jing has received a position of Quantitative Analyst in WorldQuantat.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Paolo Privitera
KICP Students: Jing Zhou
Scientific projects: Dark Matter in CCDs (DAMIC)
 
Congratulations to Dr. Alan Robinson!
August 31, 2015
Dr. Alan Robinson
Dr. Alan Robinson
Congratulations to Alan Robinson for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Dark Matter Limits from a 2L C3F8 Filled Bubble Chamber".

"Alan's thesis goes beyond presenting new WIMP limits from our bubble chambers. In addition to that, he has provided the community of dark matter experimentalists with new tools that should generate a wide interest: revised cross-section libraries for neutron production and neutron scattering that can be employed to better assess the sensitivity of any WIMP detector."
- Juan I. Collar, Ph.D. advisor

Alan has received a Research Associate position at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Juan I. Collar
KICP Students: Alan Robinson
Scientific projects: Chicagoland Observatory for Underground Particle Physics (COUPP)
 
John Carlstrom has received 2015 Gruber Cosmology Prize
August 6, 2015
<i>Top:</i> KICP senior member 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. <i>Bottom:</i>KICP Director Michael Turner and John Carlstrom at the Gruber Cosmology Prize awards ceremony.
Top: KICP senior member 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.
Bottom:KICP Director Michael Turner and John Carlstrom at the Gruber Cosmology Prize awards ceremony.
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, KICP senior member 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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: John E. Carlstrom; Michael S. Turner
Scientific projects: South Pole Telescope (SPT)
 
Congratulations to Dr. Pierre Gratia!
July 20, 2015
Dr. Pierre Gratia
Dr. Pierre Gratia
Congratulations to Pierre Gratia for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Cosmology and Singularities in Massive Gravity."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Pierre Gratia
 
Congratulations to Dr. Louis Abramson!
July 13, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Louis Abramson!
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Michael D. Gladders
KICP Students: Louis Abramson
 
KICP Members Win Midwest Famelab Competition
June 17, 2015
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic (center) and graduate student Ross Cawthon (back row 3<sup>rd</sup> from left) were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago.
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic (center) and graduate student Ross Cawthon (back row 3rd from left) were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago.
KICP fellow Dan Scolnic and graduate student Ross Cawthon were victorious in the Famelab Regional Heat #5 held in Chicago. Ross advanced to the final round with "A Cosmic Battle: Gravity vs. Dark Energy", a presentation on the battle between gravity and dark energy, and how the outcome determines the fate of the universe. While Dan brought home the gold by talking about the cosmic origins of gold. In his presentation, "Wedding Bands and Supernovae", he explained that the only objects in the universe that can produce the gold, silver or platinum in a wedding band are supernovae. He discussed how they can be used as "standard candles", and how he is finding and measuring thousands of these standard candles to determine the expansion history of the universe. Dan won both the judges award and the audience award. Next April, he will head to Washington DC for the national competition, where he will face nine other national finalists from the last two years. Both Dan and Ross credit participating in KICP outreach efforts including Astronomy Conversations, Life Long Learning (senior outreach) and working with inner city youth in the Space Explorers Program with helping to hone their science communications skills.

FameLab USA is a NASA-sponsored, science-based take on American Idol, aimed at fostering an open community for science communication and development. Dan summed up the training and competition experience, "It was really fun, and the organizers spent a lot of time giving us lessons on better ways to convey hard science topics to audiences."

Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel Scolnic
KICP Students: Ross Cawthon
 
Congratulations to Dr. Ke Fang!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Ke Fang!
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Angela V. Olinto
KICP Students: Ke Fang
 
Congratulations to Dr. Benedikt Diemer!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Benedikt Diemer!
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
KICP Students: Benedikt Diemer
 
Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Helsby!
June 11, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Helsby!
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Joshua A. Frieman
KICP Students: Jennifer Helsby
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey (DES)
 
Cameron Jia Liang has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
June 3, 2015
Cameron Jia Liang has won a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
KICP Students: Cameron Liang
 
Congratulations to Dr. Vinicius Miranda!
June 2, 2015
Dr. Vinicius Miranda
Dr. Vinicius Miranda
Congratulations to Vinicius Miranda 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.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Vinicius Miranda
 
Congratulations to Dr. Yin Li!
June 2, 2015
Congratulations to Dr. Yin Li!
Congratulations to Yin Li for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Cosmic Void Abundance in a Spherical Boundary Model."

Yin has received a joint postdoc position at the Berkeley and Kavli IPMU (Japan).

Related Links:
KICP Members: Wayne Hu
KICP Students: Yin Li
 
Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Student Research
June 2, 2015
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.
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.
The Enrico Fermi Institute Announces the winners of the 24th Annual Nathan Sugarman Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research:

  • Jessica Avva, Undergraduate Student
    "For her contributions to experimental ultra - high energy neutrino astrophysics, particularly for her leading role on the measurement of the radio attenuation length of ice at Summit Station, Greenland and the development of a prototype radio phased array."
  • 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."


Related Links:
KICP Members: Daniel E. Holz; Andrey V. Kravtsov; Abigail G. Vieregg
KICP Students: Jessica Avva; Hsin-Yu Chen; Benedikt Diemer
 
Angela Olinto wins a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
June 1, 2015
Angela Olinto wins a 2014-2015 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
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.

Sincerely,
Rocky Kolb
Dean of the Physical Sciences Division

Related Links:
KICP Members: Edward W. Kolb; Angela V. Olinto