KIPAC Newsletter, Summer 2013

KIPAC Newsletter #3 (Dec 20, 2013)

by Tom Abel

In this Newsletter: KIPAC@10 imminent, new arrivals and new alumni, call for workshop proposals, Computing endowment, Giddings fellow named, postdoc ad, and more.

Welcome to the KIPAC Newsletter

It is with great pleasure that I send out my first KIPAC nchiewsletter in my new role as Acting Director of KIPAC. As the many news contained here show, it is clear we have a fantastically active program and much to look forward to. 

Let me also use this chance to thank Roger for his remarkable job as inaugural director for leading and developing KIPAC into what it is today in these short 10 years since he and Steve Kahn came here to make KIPAC happen. His vision enabled and supported many of the fantastic successes we have had and the research programs we have now. In our 4 day conference KIPAC @ 10 (Sept. 3rd-6th) we will be able to fully appreciate all the amazing things that have happened here already and look to the future for the many great things we will be involved in. It is wonderful that Roger will get to enjoy his sabbatical and I am excited for him to have a lot more time for his research.

Let me also thank our deputy directors Aaron Roodman and Pat Burchat taking care of the institute over the summer and for their continued dedication to make this place great.

I am looking forward to work with all of you to continue to make KIPAC the best it can be.

Tom Abel

What's all this?

We have a newsletter! To suggest information for the next one and help correct errors and omissions please send email to news@kipac.

A conference of our own: KIPAC @ 10

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we are having a science party! September 3rd-6th will see us host a small conference, "KIPAC@10: Big Questions in Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology".

We've identified seven Big Questions, one in each area of research that KIPAC is engaged in, and asked eighteen of our alumni to organise the conference sessions on those. They've invited some of the current leaders in the field to come and discuss the issues with us, as we look back at the past 10 years and forward to the next 10.  Do come and join in the conversation with our distinguished guests, KIPAC alumni and friends. It should be a very stimulating week! If you can't make the meeting in person, don't worry: we'll be blogging the conference as we go, and recording all the talks and discussion. Watch out for all that appearing on the KIPAC website during September. You can find out more about KIPAC@10, and register if you haven't already, at

Want to host a KIPAC Workshop this year?

We are planning to host a large number of workshops at KIPAC this year. You are all invited to develop ideas for productive workshops. These can be any size between 2 and 40 participants, can last anywhere from half a day to a week (or even longer), and take any format you like. It's up to you! Come up with an idea for a workshop, pitch it and we'll work with you to make it happen. The scope and details of this new program are not fully settled as we are working on the details of budgets etc. So while we will have more updates on this is the near future please do not hesitate to start developing your ideas and work on a first draft of a proposal.

Sounds good! How? Your pitch should be an easy 2 pages: up to 1 page summary of the science and the reason why a workshop on it would be a good idea. Who would be the organizers? The second page should be your suggested list of key participants, followed by a very simple, rough budget and brief budget justification (say, one paragraph) and suggest a preferred time frame. Then submit this proposal by email to workshops@kipac. We will get back to you asap.

New Faculty Arrivals:

Kent Irwin just joined us as Professor of Physics and of Particle Physics and Astrophysics and of Photon Science. He joins us from NIST where he has developed multiplexed superconducting quantum interference devices that have made it possible to instrument large TES arrays, significantly enlarging their scope of application. His group is actively developing detector systems based on multiplexed TES arrays for astronomy, nuclear non-proliferation, materials analysis, and homeland security applications. His research interests include precision measurements of electromagnetic signals for cosmological physics and the fundamental thermodynamic and quantum mechanical limitations of sensors and detectors.
Bruce Macintosh's faculty appointment begins Sept. 1, 2013, but he will be on leave until Spring qtr. of 2014.  He is presently working at Lawrence Livermore National Labs.  His research focusses on the study of extrasolar planets, in particular the study of such planets through direct imaging, and on using adaptive optics to shape the wavefronts of light for a variety of applications.  Direct imaging of extrasolar planets involves blocking, suppressing, and subtracting the light of the bright parent star so that a planet hundreds of thousands of times fainter can be seen and studied in detail.  Prof. Macintosh is the Principal Investigator of the Gemini Planet Imager, an advanced adaptive optics planet-finder for the Gemini South telescope which will commission in late 2013.

Gordon Moore Computing Endowment:

Through a generous gift from Gordon Moore together with matching funds from Stanford enabled by a gift from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation we now have an endowment for computing hardware. Thanks are due to Roger Blandford and Steve Kahn who wisely made the contact.

Free Coffee!

Starting this Friday we will serve free coffee & tea before our KIPAC tea meetings, both at SLAC and Campus. This will be ready 30 minutes before the regular meeting time. I.e. 10:30 on Campus on Tuesdays and 10am on Fridays at SLAC. Please come early and discuss topics that may also be of interest at the KIPAC tea meetings themselves. This is a great time to meet the speaker and other visitors of the day as well as engage with each other.

Giddings graduate student fellow named:

Congratulations to Yao-Yuan Mao, who has been named our second Giddings graduate student fellow!

New arrivals:

Andrea Albert arrived in early July coming out of her PhD from Ohio State to work on the Fermi-LAT. She received her PhD working on the tentative 130 GeV gamma-ray line signal reported in the direction of the Galactic center. She is the expert on this signal and will continue to work on dark matter related topics with the Fermi-LAT and has also started to work on the CTA camera development at KIPAC.
Matt Becker is coming from the University of Chicago where he finished his PhD with Andrey Kravtsov. Matt is an expert in weak lensing studies and has developed a novel algorithm of computing distortions of galaxy images using data from cosmological simulations, which significantly helps to make realistic theoretical predictions for upcoming wide area surveys aiming to map the matter distribution in the universe on large scales.
Michael Busha is joining us as a research scientist from his most recent position at the University of Zurich, and will be working on simulations of cosmological surveys.
William East a former Stanford undergraduate is returning as postdoctoral fellow to KIPAC after having completed his PhD at Princeton under the supervision of Frans Pretorius. William is an expert in general relativistic hydrodynamics using adaptive mesh refinement simulations. His interests include compact object merger calculations.
Amy Furniss recently received her PhD from UC Santa Cruz, and joined us as a post-doctoral fellow.  She will be working in the area of high energy astrophysics, and specifically on Fermi-LAT and NuSTAR observations of active galaxies.
Yashar Hezaveh is coming from McGill University where he finished his PhD with Gil Holder.  He is particularly interested in studies of substructure using gravitational lenses.
Ryan Keisler will be joining us as a Kavli Fellow after completing a Hubble Fellowship at the University of Chicago.  He is interested in the CMB, gravitational lensing, and galaxy clusters, and has primarily worked on the South Pole Telescope.
Matthew Kistler completed his Einstein fellowship at LBL before joining us. He has a very broad research program with interest in cosmic ray and plasma physics as well as GRB's and supernovae.
Josh Meyers finished his PhD on supernova cosmology with Saul Perlmutter at Berkeley and joined Stanford early this year to focus on challenges related to weak gravitational lensing, as part of the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC).
Phil Marshall joined us as a staff member at SLAC; his primary research interest is cosmology with strong gravitational lensing. Phil is chair of the LSST strong lensing science collaboration, and lead of the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration strong lensing analysis working group, and is coordinating investigations by both into the potential of LSST for finding thousands of new strong lenses, and measuring their image configurations and time delays. You can help him out in this by visiting!
Fatima Rubio da Costa joined Professor Petrosian's group  mid-May, coming from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany.  She did her PhD at the University of Catania, Italy, which included a stay at the University of Glasgow, UK. She focused on the physics involved in solar flares -- in particular in the study of particle acceleration and energy deposition. At Stanford she will be working on  combining a one-dimensional  hydrodynamic code that includes radiative transfer with the Stanford particle transport and acceleration code to investigate the hydrodynamic response of the solar and stellar atmospheres to energy input by accelerated particles and the feedback of this response on the acceleration mechanism.
Sam Skillman joins us as a Kavli Fellow, September 1st, coming from Boulder, Colorado where he finished his PhD with Jack Burns. He held a DOE computational graduate student fellowship there and is an expert in conducting cosmological adaptive mesh refinement simulations -- in particular with applications to clusters of galaxies and studying particle acceleration. He is also an expert in scientific visualization and one of the major contributors to the visualization package yt originally started by our own Matthew Turk quite a few years ago.
Christopher Williams comes to us from Chicago after finishing his PhD with Paolo Privitera. He has broad interests in experimental astrophysics and cosmology and will explore opportunities with CTA and other experiments.
Jonathan Zrake just arrived from NYU where he just finished his PhD with Andrew MacFadyen with some stunning relativistic MHD simulations using a parallel code he wrote. He has broad interests in high energy astrophysics.


New Roles:

Roger Blandford is on a one-year sabbatical with a Simon’s fellowship at Berkeley. He will spend Fridays with us at KIPAC.
Steve Kahn has taken on the role of Director of the LSST project since July 1st. Fortunately, he will remain faculty with us at Stanford and SLAC. However, he will split his time equally between KIPAC and the LSST Project Office based in Arizona.
Steve Ritz, faculty member in Physics at UC Santa Cruz, became the LSST Camera Project Scientist, and will be spending part of his time in the Kavli Building at SLAC.
Leonardo Senatore returns from his one-year leave at CERN.

Longterm Visitors:

Dominique Boutigny, former Director of the CNRS/IN2P3 Computing Center in France, will be spending two years in residence in the Kavli Building at SLAC, working on LSST and DESC. He will coordinate common French/US LSST activities especially in the Data Management area. In the current LSST data model it is foreseen to split the Data Release Production between NCSA (Illinois) and CC-IN2p3; this requires a strong coordination between the two sides of the ocean. Dominique will also bring his computing expertise in the DESC collaboration and will join the science groups working on dark energy. Dominique already spent two years at SLAC between 1998 and 2000 within the BaBar experiment.
Yoel Rephaeli is a Professor at Tel Aviv and UC San Diego. He has many research interests -- from cosmic rays to galaxy clusters and stays with us until the end of September on this visit.

New (and soon to be) Alumni:

Raul Angulo has started a position as scientific staff at Centro de Estudios de Fisica del Cosmos de Aragon.
Peter Behroozi has started as the Giacconi Fellow at STScI.
Silvia Bonoli has started a position as scientific staff at Centro de Estudios de Fisica del Cosmos de Aragon.  Both Silvia and Raul will participate in J-PAS, the impressive 8000 square degreee galaxy survey to study dark energy using 54 narrow band filters. [J-PAS survey]
Chihway Chang has moved to ETH Zürich as a postdoc.
Alex Drlica-Wagner is moving to a Schramm Fellowship in Experimental Particle Astrophysics at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics.
Steve Ehlert is now a postdoctoral associate at MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.
Sasha Kosovichev is leaving Stanford to become the Director of the Big Bear Solar Observatory ( effective September 1st. He will also be a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, which manages the observatory. BBSO has the world’s largest solar telescope and has postdoctoral openings in solar spectro-polarimetry, as well as more senior level positions.
Joshua Lande completed the Data Insight Fellowship program and has started a job as Data Scientist at Twitter.
Peter Lewis is moving to Hawaii an will work on the Belle experiment.
Aurora Simionescu was selected as the JAXA International Top Young Fellow in 2013.
Jack Singal has moved to a faculty position at the University of Richmond in Virginia (
Louie Strigari has become an Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics at the University of Indiana.
Justin Vandenbroucke has moved to the department of physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Assistant Professor (

Congratulations to you all and please do stay in touch!

More News:

The Dark Energy Survey is starting official operations on August 31. The survey will run over five years, and will map out the positions of 300 million galaxies over ⅛ of the sky.
Our postdoc advertisement will be out soon on the AAS job register. Please encourage your friends and collaborators to apply.
New high energy density research group at SLAC: Siegfried Glenzer arrived in the spring this year at SLAC and has begun first experiments of what is an exciting area of experimental laboratory astrophysics. His group is broadly interested in plasmas. He is using the Matter in Extreme Conditions experiment at LCLS to probe plasmas by powerful lasers of ever increasing intensity. The current experiments exploit a 30 terrawatt laser and there is a plan over the coming years to increase this to much past a petawatt! It should likely be possible to not only create collisionless shocks in these experiments but also to study the details of particle acceleration within them. There will be a workshop on the subject at SLAC October 1st and 2nd . Please participate if you are interested in this science.


There is a fantastic program of talks at Kallosh-Shenker fest, Sept. 9 to 12.

Snowmass page and materials.


Unfortunately, there are always some errors and unintentional omissions when collecting this newsletter. Please, if you notice something that needs correcting, send email to news@kipac right away.