2016 News

  • Eugenio Bianchi and Sarah Shandera have been named as visiting fellows at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario.
  • Ivan Agullo, a former postdoctoral scholar of Abhay Ashtekar, has been awarded the IUPAP Medal for Gravitational Physics “for his outstanding contributions to the physics of the early universe and possible observational consequences of quantum gravity.” Much of this work was carried out at IGC. Full news story….
  • Chad Hanna, B. Sathyaprakash and Penn State members of the LIGO group – Sydney Chamberlin, Duncan Meacher and Cody Messick – have received the following awards based on the detection of gravitational waves:
  • Stephane Coutu and Miguel Mostafa (CPGA) have been elected as Fellows of the American Physical Society in the Division of Astrophysics. Stephane Coutu was recognized “for his pioneering contributions to particle astrophysics, spanning the energy range from direct measurements to the highest energy particles found in nature.” Miguel Mostafa was recognized “for his participation in the design, development, construction and operation of the Pierre Auger Observatory and High Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory, for his contribution to the Auger hybrid reconstruction and derived measurements of composition, and for his leadership of the Auger analysis group decided to the search of the sources of the highest energy cosmic rays.”
  • Chad Hanna has been awarded a New Investigator award from the Kaufman Foundation. The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation is part of The Pittsburgh Foundation and supports “cutting-edge scientific research at institutions across the state of Pennsylvania.” Full news story….
  • Emily Grosholz (CFT) has been appointed to a named professorship in the College of Liberal Arts. She is now the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy, English and African American Studies.
  • Chad Hanna, Assistant Professor of Physics, has been appointed as the Norman and Trygve Freed Early Career Professor in Physics from the Eberly College of Science. Full news story….
  • Abhay Ashtekar, holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Physics, was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to membership in the academy is one of the highest honors accorded to U.S. scientists or engineers by their peers.
    Full news story….
  • Kelly Malone, also a graduate student of Miguel Mostafa, was awarded a fellowship from the Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. This fellowship will allow her to work with HAWC collaborators from June-November 2016 at Los Alamos National Lab. Alan Coleman, also a graduate student of Miguel Mostafa, received an i-PROGRESS internship from the Helmholtz Alliance for Astroparticle Physics. It will allow him to visit and work with Auger colleagues at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for one month in summer 2016.
  • Stephanie Brown, an undergraduate student working with Miguel Mostafa, was selected from over 100 applicants to receive the 2016 Erickson Discovery Grant.
  • Andrea Sylvia Biscoveanu was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship for 2016-17 from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. This is the premier award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering. Sylvia is a junior and started working in Miguel Mostafa’s group already as a freshman. She has helped analyze data from the Pierre Auger Observatory, the largest cosmic ray facility in the world. She has also conducted research on gravitational waves from the LIGO collaboration.
    Full news story…
  • The paper Gravitational Waves from Isolated Systems: Surprising Consequences of a Positive Cosmological Constant by Abhay Ashtekar, Beatrice Bonga and Aruna Kesavan was published in Physical Review Letters as Editors’ suggestion. It was also highlighted in Physics World, published by the British Institute of Physics. In particular, it extends the celebrated “Quadrupole formula” that Einstein published exactly 100 years ago to the case when there is a positive cosmological constant. Full news story…
  • A new window on the Universe opened through gravitational waves: The IGC role
    IGC researchers, led by Chad Hanna, played an important role in the exciting LIGO discovery of gravitational waves. Chad co-Chairs the compact binary coalescence group that identified the source as the collision of two black holes, each of about 30 solar masses. Over the past two decades, IGC researchers have made seminal contributions to all theoretical aspects of gravitational wave science that include mathematical and numerical general relativity, interface with astronomy and particle astrophysics, and computer science involving Big data. In 2001, the National Science Foundation awarded us a Physics Frontier Center with a mission to bring together scientists from different areas ranging from general relativity to astronomy and astrophysics to computer science, statistics and data analysis. Under the leadership of Sam Finn, the Center organized a very large number of focus sessions, workshops and outreach initiatives, thereby adding a much needed cohesion to the then emerging field of gravitational wave science. Finally, the Penn State team at the Swift mission center is also actively involved in searches for electromagnetic followups of sources of gravitational waves. More information….
  • Congratulations to Azadeh Keivani and the AMON (Astrophysical Multi-messenger Observatory Network) team for a successful Swift Cycle 12 guest investigator proposal. The proposal, “Seeking the sources of the highest-energy IceCube neutrinos with Swift,” provides Keivani and her co-investigators access to Swift observing time. The award also enables the analysis of Swift-acquired data. For more information, please see http://sites.psu.edu/amon/2016/01/18/amon-receives-swift-cycle-12-award/
  • Aruna Kesavan won the 2016 Eklund Award for Scientific Communication. These student lectures are held in honor of Peter Eklund, whose dedicated mentoring of students encouraged the highest standards of excellent in all aspects of research. Aruna will present the Physics Department colloquium on January 28, 2016.
  • Niel Brandt has been named to the AAS High-Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) Executive Committee.
  • Niel Brandt has received the Bruno Rossi Prize, the most prestigious award given by the Division of High Energy of the American Astronomical Society. Dr. Brandt “led the effort to obtain the deepest Chandra fields, enabling the most sensitive cosmological X-ray surveys to date. His work traces the accretion history of SMBH and their coevolution with host galaxies across cosmic time.”
  • Beatrice Bonga and Aruna Kesavan were awarded travel grants that allowed them to participate in the “Mathematical General Relativity Conference” in the Tsinghua International Mathematics Center, Sanya, China in January 2016. Both were selected to give talks at the conference.
  • Elliot Nelson and Niayesh Afshordi won third prize of the 2015 Buchalter Cosmology Prize, which was announced at the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The Buchalter Prize was created in 2014 by Ari Buchalter and “seeks to reward new ideas or discoveries that have potential to produce a breakthrough advance in our understanding of the origin, structure and evolution of the universe.” Drs. Afshordi and Nelson were recognized for their work “Cosmological Non-Constant Problem: Cosmological Bounds on TeV-Scale Physics and Beyond.” This work was seen by the judging panel as “an intriguing proposition that the Planck scale of quantum gravity may soon be accessible by particle accelerators, based on the expected white noise fluctuations in the cosmological constant, which might not be constant at all by vary widely in space.”

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