KIPAC Newsletter, Summer 2019

Summer students 

Welcome to the ~30 undergraduate summer research students that will be at KIPAC for 8 or 10 week programs; they just started this week! The students are joining us through the following programs: CAMPARE, SLAC/INFN Summer Exchange Program, Physics, Applied Physics & SLAC program at Stanford, SR-EIP, STAR and SULI.

Recent Science Highlights

Opportunities and Announcements

There is an opportunity for KIPAC Innovation grants to seed new science ideas, collaborations, and/or ideas to improve the KIPAC Community, due August 1.

We are interested in your thoughts about KIPAC outreach -- please fill out this survey!


We are looking for new pictures to spiff up the walls in PAB and FKB, please send your favorite scientific image from your work to Ziba (


The CASPEN program is open to KIPAC students and postdocs to pursue short term research projects at UCL(London), CCA (New York), ICC (Durham), Oskar Klein Center (Stockholm), CCAPP (Ohio State), with a rolling application date.

KIPAC Open House (Community Day) 

KIPAC has a long tradition of a very popular annual open house which includes outreach to the general public and local community.  KIPAC and SLAC are joining forces for this year’s open house event, called Community Day, on October 19th. This will allow us to serve a larger number of participants, provide more activities, and share the various responsibilities with SLAC Communications group. If you have ideas for any new activity or event, please contact Ziba.  We will be looking for KIPAC volunteers and as always will very much appreciate your help to make the event a success.  

Comings and goings:

New KIPAC postdoctoral fellows:

  • Simon Birrer will be joining this fall as a Kavli Fellow. Simon brings expertise in strong lensing, and is currently involved with DES, LSST DESC, and the STRIDES project. 
  • Dominic Beck and Neil Goeckner-Wald will be joining this fall to work on CMB experiments with Chao-Lin Kuo.
  • Johannes Lange will be the first joint Santa Cruz-Stanford Cosmology Fellow.  He will start his position at Santa Cruz but will be a regular KIPAC visitor during his first two years there. Johannes’ research focus is modeling the connection between galaxies and dark matter halos as well as cosmological probes from small-scale structure.
  • Meredith Powell will be joining this fall as a Porat Fellow to continue her research into the multiwavelength properties of active galactic nuclei and their connections to the evolution of large scale structure. 
  • Martijn de Vries will be working with Roger Romani and Steve Allen on topics in high energy astrophysics, including the physics of pulsar wind nebulae, radio galaxies and galaxy clusters.


KIPAC graduate students who have completed (or will soon complete!) their PhDs:   

  • Saptarshi Chaudhuri is completing his PhD working with Kent Irwin on developing a new search for QCD axion dark matter (Dark Matter Radio), with a focus on fundamental optimization of dark matter searches and their acceleration with quantum sensing. In September he will begin a Dicke Fellowship at Princeton.
  • Joe DeRose is completing his PhD working with Risa Wechsler with a focus on large simulations for cosmological galaxy surveys.  In October he will begin a Postdoctoral position jointly held between UCSC and UC Berkeley.
  • Jae Hwan Kang is completing his Ph.D. working with Chao-Lin Kuo on the observation and data analysis of the BICEP3 experiment, which is measuring polarization of the cosmic microwave background from the South Pole. Jae Hwan will stay at Stanford as a postdoctoral researcher this coming year.
  • Warren Morningstar, working with Roger Blandford and Yashar Hezaveh, has completed his dissertation on measuring the incidence of small scale structure within galaxies using gravitational lensing. He has successfully applied modern approaches based on machine learning and neural nets to observations made with the ALMA millimeter telescope and will start a fellowship with Google in August -- we hope that he will visit us often!
  • Anna Ogorzalek is completing her Ph.D. working with Steve Allen on the use of high spectral resolution X-ray observations to probe the physics of AGN feedback. In August, she will take up a postdoctoral position at Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Jean-Baptiste “JB” Ruffio is completing his PhD working with Bruce Macintosh on advanced signal processing and Bayseian methods for studying exoplanets with integral field spectroscopy. In September he will begin a Caltech Instrumentation Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dimitri Mawet. 
  • Adam Wright is completing his Ph.D. working with Steve Allen on the use of weak lensing measurements for galaxy cluster cosmology. In September he will take up a faculty position at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Departures and new beginnings:

  • Yashar Hezaveh and Laurence Perreault Levasseur are both at the Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York this year, and will start faculty positions at the University of Montreal in the fall.
  • Greg Green will be starting a new Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Heidelberg in the fall.
  • Daniel Gruen has accepted the Panofsky Fellowship at SLAC, and will be sticking around at KIPAC in this new capacity!
  • Wei Ji, who did her PhD on LUX/LZ with Dan Akerib and Tom Shutt, is now working for Intuitive.  They make the Da Vinci surgical robot.
  • Ashley King is working for a startup company Carbon Lighthouse as a data scientist.  
  • Pierre-Francois Leget is continuing to work with the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration with the group at Laboratoire de Physique Nucléaire et de Hautes Energies (LPNHE) in Paris. 
  • Manuel Meyer currently working at DESY Hamburg for the summer as a Feodor Lynen Return Fellow to work on a direct detection experiment for axion-like particles (the ALPS II experiment) before starting his Marie Curie Fellowship in Erlangen to work on blazars, B-fields, and axions with CTA.
  • Krista Lynne Smith has accepted a faculty position at the Southern Methodist University (in her hometown of Dallas!); she will be staying at KIPAC (where she currently holds an Einstein Fellowship) for another year. 
  • Research associate Melisa Tallis will be leaving in July after two years in the exoplanet group to begin a Master’s program in Argentina. 

KIPAC workshops

As always we welcome proposals from any KIPAC members to host small workshops.  A template for the proposal can be found here.

  • On August 28 - August 30, Yoannis Liodakis, Roger Romani, Roger Blandford, and Greg Madejski will organize a workshop aimed to discuss radiative processes in jet-dominated active galaxies.

Past workshops:

  • On May 29 KIPAC hosted a KIPAC hack day. It was a full day on-campus event designed to facilitate and make time for collaborative projects between members of KIPAC, which for many people meant revisiting projects ideas that originated at last fall's KIPAC retreat and postdoc retreat. About 20 graduate students, postdocs, and research associates participated in 8 different hack projects and reported on their progress at the following week's KIPAC tea.
  • Susmita Adhikari organized a Splashback workshop April 29 - May 3. This was the first workshop focussed on the Splashback region in Dark matter halos.This feature, which has recently been proposed as a physical boundary of the halo, is accessible observationally,  related to halo history and is in principle sensitive to the nature of dark matter and gravity.  At the workshop we brought together several groups from across the globe to discuss potential applications of this feature in observations and simulations. The workshop was organized at Stanford followed by a working session in Santa Cruz, where we  began work on several projects that were discussed in the initial phase of the workshop.  
  • Enzo Days 2019 was held at KIPAC on June 10th-13th consisting of a workshop for developers in the first half and users in the latter half. During the Developer portion, Enzo developers from across the country worked together to publish a public version update to the codebase. In the User workshop, students and postdocs were newly introduced to the Enzo code and with it, learned to run cosmological simulations.
  • KIPAC postdocs Kirk Barrow, Krista Lynne-Smith, Lea Hirsch, together with Monica Bobra (HEPL) organized a day-long workshop on Space Sciences at Stanford on Monday, May 20.  The goal was to the members of KIPAC, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Aero and Astro department members to highlight their research, and to identify possible synergies.  

Public lectures

On May 9, we hosted a KIPAC Public Lecture on “Our Universe” by Professor Jo Dunkley (Princeton).  This lecture and other past KIPAC lectures are available on our youtube channel!