2006 News

  • Stephon Alexander won the prestigious Emerging Explorers award from the National Geographic.  The Emerging Explorers Program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring young adventurers, scientists, photographers, and storytellers — explorers who are already making a difference early in their careers. To help the Emerging Explorers realize their potential, National Geographic awards each of them U.S. $10,000 for research and exploration. Each year up to ten explorers are chosen from fields as diverse as anthropology, space exploration, mountaineering, and music. Stephon was the only physicist among the 8 explorers chosen in 2006.
  • Stephon also featured on the NOVA program Einstein’s Big Idea.http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field/explorers/stephon-alexander/
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/einstein/toda-alexander.html
  • Jonathan Engle has won the prestigious International Research fellowship of the National Science Foundation. Since there are 30-35 awards each year in all areas of science covered by the NSF, the competition is fierce. Jonathan was placed second in a pool of several hundred applications. He received other offers, including a Humboldt Fellowship, but has accepted the NSF Fellowship to pursue post-doctoral work in the Perez-Rovelli group at the Centre de Physique Théorique de Luminy, Marseille, starting Fall 2006.
  • Abhay Ashtekar, Tomasz Pawlowski, and Parampreet Singh co-authored three papers on the quantum nature of the big-bang [PRL, 96, 141301 (2006); PRD73, 124038, (2006); and PRD D74, 084003 (2006)] in which some long-standing questions in quantum cosmology were answered in detail using Friedman Robertson Walker models. These results were highlighted in a large number of semi-popular publications, including Research Highlights of Nature and a cover story in Bild der Wissenschaft, and a feature article in New Scientist. See also:

  • Parampreet Singh co-authored a Physical Review Letter entitled Quantum Evaporation of a naked Singularity (volume 96, 031302 (2006)). They considered a simple model in which the classical gravitational collapse leads to a naked singularity and showed that the singularity is resolved by the quantum geometry effects of loop quantum gravity. This result and the subsequent possibility that the resulting modifications of the gravitational collapse may have observable signatures was highlighted in the Physics Web and New Scientist. Physics Web report of of February 2nd, 2006 (PDF File) New Scientist writeup in the February 4th 2006 issue (PDF file)
  • Abhay Ashtekar was offered the Kramers Chair of Theoretical Physics at the Spinoza Institute of Utrecht University for the months of April and May 2006. Professor Gerard ‘t Hooft will act as his official host.  Previous occupants of the Chair include M. Berry, E. Brezin, M. Dresen, L. Faddeev, A. Schwimer, P. B. Wiegmann and E. Wigner.
  • Kevin Vandersloot has won the prestigious Marie Curie Post-doctoral Fellowship of the European Union. This has been a coveted honor in Europe and non EU citizens became eligible for nominations only recently.  Because the number of awards to non EU citizens is restricted, the competition is even fiercer than for the regular Marie Curie Fellowships.  Kevin will take this Fellowship at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation in Portsmouth, UK.

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