2011 News

  • Randi Neshteruk won this year’s College-wide award for excellence in customer service. The official announcement says that the purpose of the award is “to honor a staff member or team who demonstrates exemplary service to others, internal or external to the unit and the College.” This recognition is no surprise to us in the Institute who know fully well how Randi goes out of her way to help us all and to take care of our large number of visitors and conference/workshop participants! This is the second College-wide award Randi has won (of the three she is eligible for!).
  • Stephon Alexander comments included in Anil Ananthaswamy’s article in the 15 October 2011 issue of New Scientist. PDF
  • The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos will host the inaugural workshop of the Astrophysical Multi-Messenger Observatory Network (AMON) on October 1-2, 2011. The workshop will begin at 9:00 AM on Saturday, October 1 in 321 Whitmore Lab with sessions covering multimessenger theory, participating observatories, ongoing multimessenger programs and cyber infrastructure. More information about the AMON workshop is available at
    http://www.gravity.psu.edu/events/amon/index.shtml.
  • Ivan Agullo has been awarded the BBVA Foundation RSEF-Young Researchers in the Field of Theoretical Physics award by the Royal Spanish Physical Society for “the innovative and cutting-edge character of his research in the field of gravitation and cosmology.”
  • Tyler Anderson, a graduate student of Stephane Coutu, was awarded a three-year NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. Out of 88 applications, Tyler was chosen as one of ten recipients.
  • Ivan Agullo received a Ph.D. prize from the University of Valencia for the “best Ph.D. work for the 2010/2011 year.” This award is based on the comprehensive set of work done during the entire length of a student’s studies. His thesis is titled “Quantum Black Holes, Inflationary Cosmology and the Planck Scale” and was completed under the supervision of his advisor, Jose Navarro-Salas.
  • On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of loop quantum gravity, celebrated through the LOOPS 11 conference in Madrid, Abhay Ashtekar and Carlo Rovelli gave public lectures at the headquarters of the BBVA Foundation and the Madrid Science Museum CosmoCaixa. The anniversary and the public lectures were covered in dozens of articles in the Spanish language press in Europe, Mexico and Latin America. For illustrative examples, see:  BBVA Foundatione (English)  |  BBVA Foundation (Spanish)  |  YouTube Video  |  Ashtekar, Mena-Marugan and Rovelli
  • Dr. Sarah Shandera will join IGC as a new faculty member starting Fall 2011. Dr Shandera is a cosmologist. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell in 2006, was a post-doctoral scholar at Columbia from 2006 to 2009 and at the Perimeter Institute since then. She has contributed to fundamental theory, numerical simulations and the interface between observations and theory. She has organized numerous workshops and is a co-author of three Decadal and NASA white papers.
  • Ivan Agullo has won first prize in the 2011 Gravity Research Foundation for a paper entitled “Stimulated Creation of Quanta during Inflation and the Observable Universe” written jointly with Leonard Parker of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Previous award winners from IGC include Abhay Ashtekar, Martin Bojowald, Peter Meszaros, and Roger Penrose. More….
  • The LOOPS 11 conference will take place at the main campus of CSIC in Madrid (Spain) in May 23-28, 2011. According to the Spanish organizers, “It will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the publication by Abhay Ashtekar of the landmark paper on the “new variables” that sparked the loop quantum gravity (LQC) revolution. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the state of the art in LQG research and review the open issues and problems that must be solved to complete the quantization of general relativity in this framework. However the organizers have placed special emphasis on the impact of LQG on other approaches to quantum gravity and, reciprocally, on the exploration of ideas originating in other frameworks that could be beneficial for LQG.” More information is available at the conference website: http://www.iem.csic.es/loops11/.  Please view photos and popular articles from the past 25 years.
  • Edward Wilson-Ewing, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, received the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. The award is “considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students and recognizes outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishment.”
  • IceCube project, the world’s largest observatory ever built to detect the elusive sub-atomic particles called neutrinos, has just been completed in the clear ice at the South Pole with the help of Penn State scientists Doug Cowen and Tyce DeYoung. Trillions of neutrinos stream through the human body at any given moment, but they rarely interact with regular matter, and researchers want to know more about them. The observatory provides an innovative means to investigate the sources and properties of neutrinos, which originate in some of the most spectacular phenomena in the universe. More….

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