News, 2012
Daniel Holz has received a NSF CAREER award
January 25, 2012
Daniel Holz, Assistant Professor
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Daniel Holz for being awarded a NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award. 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.

Professor Holz's research focuses on the interplay of general relativity, astrophysics, and cosmology. Recently he has been working on using gravitational waves and gravitational lensing as cosmological probes.

Pizza with Professors
February 22, 2012
Pizza with Professors
On February 20th, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) partnered with The Society of Women in Physics (SWIP) to hold "Pizza with Professors," a dinner and discussion about the joys and stresses of pursuing a career in physics. KICP professors and post-doctoral fellows joined faculty from the Physics department in sharing dinner and experiences with around 50 enthusiastic undergraduate physics majors. The event was held in the Kersten Family Atrium of the University's Gordon Center for the Integrative Sciences and participants left with a better appreciation of what a career in physics or a related field ultimately requires.

Brothers and Sisters4Science Discover the Universe with PFC Scientists!
March 30, 2012
Dr. Elise Jennings and Sisters4Science girls discuss the phases of the moon. Why does it look that way tonight?
KICP Fellow Elise Jennings and Graduate Students Chris Greer and Immanuel Buder recently shared their enthusiasm for Cosmology by participating in Project Exploration's Brothers and Sisters4Science programs at local schools.Learn more >>

SPT/SAIC exhibit
April 25, 2012
SPT/SAIC exhibit
Photos: SAIC SPT exhibit; South Pole Telescope assembly by Jason Smith

As part of our ongoing partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), students in an Architecture, interior architecture and designed objects (AAIDO) studio course designed and constructed a portable exhibit about the South Pole Telescope. This installation pays homage to the 100 years of exploration and discovery at the South Pole and to the most recent scientific achievements of SPT.
Visual imagery provides a glimpse into life and research at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Interactive components include a backdrop of the ceremonial South Pole and Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear photo op and a multi-touch table that encourages self-guided exploration of images, videos and data. The first destination for the exhibit is the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC (April 27-29) where Tom Plagge, Tyler Natoli and Kyle Story will represent the SPT science team. Other planned deployments include The World Science Festival Street Fair and special events at SAIC.

Congratulations to Dr. Hao Huan!
April 30, 2012
Dr. Hao Huan.
Congratulations to Hao Huan for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Cosmic Gamma-Ray Propagation as a Probe for Intergalactic Media and Interactions."

Hao has received a researcher position at the Teza Technologies.

Congratulations to Dr. Immanuel Buder!
June 9, 2012
Dr. Immanuel Buder
Congratulations to Immanuel Buder for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Measurement of the CMB Polarization at 95 GHz from QUIET."

Immanuel has received a postdoctoral fellow position at Harvard College Observatory.

Elise Jennings has been awarded a Springer Thesis Prize
June 18, 2012
Elise Jennings has been awarded a Springer Thesis Prize
KICP is pleased to announce that Elise Jennings has been awarded a Springer Thesis Prize for her thesis "Simulations of Dark Energy Cosmologies".

Simulations of Dark Energy Cosmologies
A major outstanding problem in physics is understanding the nature of the dark energy that is driving the accelerating expansion of the Universe. This thesis makes a significant contribution by demonstrating, for the first time, using state-of-the-art computer simulations, that the interpretation of future galaxy survey measurements is far more subtle than is widely assumed, and that a major revision to our models of these effects is urgently needed. The work contained in the thesis was used by the WiggleZ dark energy survey to measure the growth rate of cosmic structure in 2011 and had a direct impact on the design of the surveys to be conducted by the European Space Agency's Euclid mission, a 650 million euro project to measure dark energy.

Springer Theses Award
Springer Theses is restricted to truly outstanding original work that makes a substantial contribution to research in its field. The author of each thesis accepted into the series will receive a prize of €500. Theses will be published both in print and in Springer's prominent eBook programme, thus becoming accessible to millions of readers worldwide through SpringerLink. The prestige and visibility associated with the prize-winning publication will help to further the career of deserving students.

Stephan S. Meyer and the WMAP team awarded the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize
June 20, 2012
Stephan S. Meyer and the WMAP team awarded the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize
Prof. Stephan S. Meyer will share the $500,000 award of the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize with NASA Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) lead Charles Bennett and other colleagues from the team.

The WMAP team used observations of the so-called "echo of the Big Bang," the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, to determine the universe's vital statistics - its age, content, geometry, and origin. This feat in turn has helped transform cosmology itself into a precision science.

Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Kelso!
July 10, 2012
Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Kelso!
Congratulations to Christopher Kelso for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Recent Results in Dark Matter Direct Detection Experiments."

"Chris' research has been focused on dark matter, and interpretations of data from a number of underground experiments designed to search for it. Particularly exciting has been his work on dark matter interpretations of the signals reported by the CoGeNT, CRESST and DAMA experiments. While we cannot say for certain yet whether these experiments are seeing dark matter particles, Chris' work has certainly helped to make these experiments and their anomalous results a "hot topic" among particle physicists and cosmologists."
- Dan Hooper, PhD advisor

Christopher has received a postdoctoral scholar position at the University of Utah.

Congratulations to Dr. Samuel Leitner!
July 20, 2012
Dr. Samuel Leitner.
Congratulations to Samuel Leitner for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "The Star Formation History of Disk Galaxies & Implications for Simulations."

"In his thesis paper Sam has derived star formation histories of galaxies, which are still forming stars now, using a variety of observations on how star formation rate depends on stellar mass of galaxies as a function of cosmic epoch. Remarkably, the results show that galaxies such as our Milky Way have formed more than 80% of their stars over the last ten billion years of the evolution, and less than 20% during the first three billion years. This result is at variance with most simulations of galaxy formation and may help to explain why simulations generally fail to produce late-type disk galaxies with small bulges. In his paper, Sam has also uncovered a curious discrepancy between the star formation histories of dwarf galaxies derived using the method he used and those deduced from the color-magnitude diagram of stars for nearby dwarfs."
- Andrey Kravtsov, PhD advisor

Samuel has received a Prize Postdoctoral fellow position in the Center for Theory and Computation at the University of Maryland.

Congratulations to Dr. Melanie Simet!
August 3, 2012
Dr. Melanie Simet
Congratulations to Melanie Simet for successfully defending her PhD dissertation on "Galaxy cluster center detection methods with weak lensing."

"Melanie has studied weak gravitational lensing caused by galaxy clusters. She led the effort to measure this lensing signal in Stripe 82 of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, with results that will help calibrate cluster masses and begin the community on the road to measuring tomography. For her thesis, Melanie studied the important effect that it is difficult to locate the true center of a galaxy cluster. This "mis-ceterning" problem leads to incorrect mass determinations. By using a combination of simulations and data from SDSS, Melanie quantified both the effect and various algorithms proposed to address it."
- Scott Dodelson, PhD advisor

Melanie has received a postdoctoral position at the Carnegie Mellon University.

Christopher Williams has been awarded a 2012 CCAPP Price Prize
August 6, 2012
Chris Williams assembling the MAYBE chamber at the Argonne National Laboratory Van de Graaff electron accelerator.
Congratulations to KICP graduate student Christopher Williams, who was awarded a 2012 CCAPP Price Prize for his work on novel methods for the detection of Ultra-High Energy Cosmic Rays, which include the MIcrowave Detection of Air Showers (MIDAS) experiment. The Price Prize is awarded annually to graduate students in recognition of research excellence in areas closely related to CCAPP science initiatives. The prize announcement states that "Williams is an experimentalist; he is working on new techniques to detect the highest-energy particles in the universe, seeking clues to their unknown origins." Winners spend an extended period visiting CCAPP, give a Price Prize seminar, and receive an honorarium.

Dr. Pliny A. and Margaret H. Price Prize in Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics

Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Greer!
October 31, 2012
Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Greer!
Congratulations to Christopher Greer for successfully defending his PhD dissertation on "Calibrating Optical Richness using Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Observations."

"Chris Greer made critical contributions to the building and deploying of the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Array (SZA), an interferometric array of 3.5 meter mm-wave telescopes located at the CARMA site in California. He used the SZA to image the SZ effect for a sample of galaxy clusters selected by their richness in the SDSS maxBCG cluster catalog. His thesis provides the first joint calibration of the SZ and optical mass-observable relation. This work is important for using cluster surveys for constraining cosmology, in particular the nature of dark energy, and it provides the ground work for the upcoming joint analysis of the large South Pole Telescope and Dark Energy Survey data sets."
- John Carlstrom, PhD advisor

Christopher has received a postdoctoral researcher position at Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona.

A new detector is seeking the nature of dark matter
December 19, 2012
KICP Fellow Alvaro Chavarria (right) and Fermilab postdoc Javier Tiffenberg in front of the polyethylene shielding surrounding the DAMIC detector installed at SNOLAB.
The DAMIC (DArk Matter In CCDs) experiment has been switched on in the SNOLAB Canadian Laboratory, 6800 feet underground. The installation of the 10 g detector involved members of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago and of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. DAMIC employs 250 micron thick CCDs to measure nuclear recoils induced by the Weakly Interactive Massive Particles (WIMPs) that may constitute the mysterious dark matter in the Universe. The unprecedented low energy threshold of the experiment, 40 eV, is particularly well suited for the discovery of light mass WIMPs in the few GeV range. WIMPs in this mass range may explain results from the DAMA/LIBRA, CoGent and CRESST experiments. Nuclear recoils produce signals that are readily distinguishable from the background induced by cosmic rays and electromagnetic interactions, thanks to the 15 micron pixel size of the CCD. Privitera's group at KICP, including Fellow Alvaro Chavarria and graduate student Jing Zhou, is now working on the commissioning of the experiment and data analysis. The DAMIC experiment at SNOLAB is the first step towards a 100 g detector using the CCD technology.