KIPAC Newsletter, Winter 2018

We have had a very successful start to the 2017/18 academic year. We welcomed many first-year graduate students and new postdocs to the KIPAC family. As highlighted below, we again have numerous positive outcomes to report from the workshops and collaboration meetings we have held. You’ll also see things are going well for KIPAC and its alumni.

This newsletter describes many KIPAC activities to look forward to in the new year!

Best wishes for a happy and successful 2018,

Greg, Pat, Risa, Tom & Ziba

PS: Sometimes we miss some items here or make mistakes. Please send us feedback and we will correct the information in the online version. Thanks much in advance!

Congratulations are due:

Risa Wechsler was elected fellow of the American Physical Society with the citation: “For innovation, insight, and attention to detail in understanding galaxy formation and evolution though combining large simulations and surveys; for leadership in large survey projects; and for mentorship of younger scientists.”

Zeesh Ahmed was awarded the 5 year DOE Early Career Award based on his proposal “Development of HighDensity MicrowaveMultiplexed Transition Edge Sensor Bolometers for NextGeneration CMB Cameras,” and selected by the Office of High Energy Physics.

Frederico Fiuza was also awarded a DOE Early Career Award entitled “Multi-scale PIC Simulations of High Energy Density Scenarios: From Laboratory to Astrophysics."

We had a number of summer students visiting during summer 2017, including seven students who participated in an expanded summer program through the Stanford SR-EIP/Leadership Alliance program and a new Stanford partnership with CAMPARE, both of which attract external students for summer research. The deadline for the 2018 program was February 1, and we encourage KIPAC members to engage with these students when they arrive this summer.

Our students from this past summer were as follows:

Leadership Alliance
Carrie Fillion, Jasmine Garani
Jonathan Daniel, Jose Esquivel, Denise Lepore, Christina Vides
Giorgio Dho, Chiara Magliocca
Alex Malz
Stanford Summer Research Internships
Shraddha Anand, Elizabeth Atkin, Sarah Burnett, Horace Chu, John Coyle, Paul Draghis, Donny Flynn, Sahil Gupta, Jenny Kim, Joseph Murphy, Cameron Park, Antonio Rodriguez, Roger Romani, Erik Rosenberg, Kaitlyn Shin, George Sivulka, Christian Smith, Kevin Wang
Ramiro Garcia, Melida Paz
Jacqueline Blaum, Betty Hu, Madelyn Leembruggen, Aleksandra Safonova, Stephanie Striegel
Undergraduate Visiting Research Intern
Lorenz Gärtner

KIPAC Public Lectures

  • The inaugural KIPAC Public Lecture was given by Prof. Roger Blandford on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. We had a full house and lots of facebook views! We are grateful to Dan Wilkins, Mandeep Gill, and others for coordinating the series!
  • The second lecture was given on December 12, by Prof. Aaron Roodman, covering the anticipated science to be delivered by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
  • The third lecture in the series will be by Wendy Friedman (Univ. of Chicago) on Tuesday, February 13, at 7:30pm in Hewlett 201. The title is “The Universe Continues to Reveal Surprises”.

This year’s Hofstadter Lecturer is Vicky Kalogera (Northwestern University), who will give two lectures on April 2 and 3:

  • A public lecture at 7:30pm on Monday, April 2, on "Cosmic Collisions Reveal Einstein's Gravitational-Wave Universe".
  • The AP/Physics Colloquium at 4:30pm on Tuesday, April 3, on "The Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astrophysics".

Both lectures will be in the Hewlett Teaching Center.

The 2017 KIPAC Annual Report is now out - an electronic version is on the KIPAC website! If you are planning to travel to other institutions, please take a few printed copies to share with your colleagues. Thank you Lori White for creating the new annual report and all of your contributions to it.

The new KIPAC Website was launched at the end of October. Please take a few minutes to visit and review the site. If you notice any errors or would like to make any changes to the content, please contact Ziba.

The KIPAC Holiday Party took place on Friday, December 15th at Vino Locale in Palo Alto. It was a great success - very well attended and an opportunity for us to reconnect. Many thanks to Ziba for organizing it and all of you to make it such an enjoyable get-together!

The Fall 2017 meeting of the Fermi Large Area Telescope collaboration took place at SLAC on September 5-8. As usual, the objective was to discuss recent results and plan for the future, both near term (the 2017 Fermi Symposium, which was held in October in Garmisch - Partenkirchen, Germany) and longer term (as Fermi has entered its tenth year of operations). A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of Fermi results for the gamma-ray burst GRB 170817A, the electromagnetic counterpart of the LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave event GW 170817. As has since been announced, the event was detected by the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) on Fermi, but the LAT was not taking data at the time of the burst, data taking having been disabled automatically as the Fermi spacecraft was entering a part of the orbit with intense charged-particle background.

CMB Lensing Workshop was held from September 13 - 15, 2017, aiming to bring together current and aspiring lensing experts from around the world in an interactive workshop to discuss the current state of the field and plan for the challenges of the future. The main goals were to identify and discuss challenges in current and future CMB lensing measurements; summarize current theoretical work on lensing with a focus on future challenges; and identify and plan for challenges of future CMB lensing measurements. Thanks to Kyle Story for all the effort to organize it!

LIDINE 2017 conference (LIght Detection In Noble Elements): LIDINE is a cross-disciplinary conference about detector technologies based on noble elements, with applications such as: direct dark matter detection, neutrino oscillations,neutrinoless double-beta decay, and (for the first time this year!) medical physics. Approximately 70 people attended this year's conference. We had 50 presentations and 6 panel discussions, plus a number of group tours of the IR2 noble liquids test platform.

A DES workshop was held from October 16-20th 2017; 15 members of the Dark Energy Survey convened at SLAC to participate in a workshop on cosmological simulations (for which the program can be found here). The goal of the workshop was to lay out the details of a number of analyses that will be performed on the first three years of DES data and how best to use simulations to aid these analyses. Time was divided into round table discussions and hacking focused on new ideas for mitigating systematic errors using simulations. The week was very productive in involving new people in many analyses and laid out a clear path for the coming months.

A Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) collaboration workshop took place at SLAC on December 4-7, followed by a hack day on December 8, organized by DESI Co-Spokesperson Risa Wechsler and other local DESI members. About 80 DESI scientists came together to work towards the next phase of the project, with a particular focus on survey planning and validation. The instrument installation and commissioning at Kitt Peak will begin later this year, and the survey start is expected by the end of 2019. DESI will be measuring redshifts for ~35 million galaxies and quasars.

The LSST DESC Collaboration Meeting was held at SLAC February 6-9, kicked off by a one-day Dark Energy School on Monday, February 5. A record attendance of 180 participants congregated at SLAC and filled a large number of conference rooms in SUSB and the Fred Kavli building.

The DESC meeting was followed by another workshop at the popular Point Montara Lighthouse, organized by Daniel Gruen, focused on DES combined cosmology constraints with lensing, galaxy clusters, and galaxy clustering.

KIPAC workshops have been a great success (including those mentioned above), and we would like to continue the tradition! Workshop proposals are accepted anytime at this location. We are looking forward to receiving them.

Mark your calendar now for the 2018 KIPAC Sierra Retreat -- Sept 17-19, 2018!
We had a terrific time at our first KIPAC Sierra Retreat at Fallen Leaf Lake and are happy to report that we’ll be going back to the Stanford Sierra Camp at Fallen Leaf Lake again this year, September 17-19, 2018, just before the start of Fall quarter. Please mark your calendars now! This is the early part of the week before instruction begins on September 24. This timing for the Retreat will provide an excellent opportunity for new members of KIPAC -- e.g., new postdocs and 2nd-year grad students who have settled with a KIPAC group -- to engage both intellectually and socially with the broader KIPAC family.

Coming and Going

Incoming post-docs:

Susmita Adhikari completed her PhD at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. She helped to understand the behavior of a newly detected feature in the outer density profile of dark matter halos known as the splashback radius. She has shown that this feature can be used as a probe for dynamical friction and found the first direct evidence for dynamical friction in galaxy clusters using SDSS data.

Arka Banerjee studies the cosmological large scale structure and in particular how to constrain the mass of neutrinos and their hierarchy, from existing and future galaxy surveys. He also intends to investigate different models of the dark sector and place constraints on some of the associated model parameters. His studies make use of large scale cosmological simulations and he has experience with Gadget, Nyx and ART. completed his PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and joins us as a KIPAC fellow.

Jeff Chilcote is part of the team that built the integral-field spectrograph for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). GPI is an extreme adaptive-optics, imaging polarimeter/integral-field spectrograph designed to directly image exoplanets—planets around other stars -- and was commissioned in early 2014. Jeff is also a member of the team that developed CHARIS, the Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph—an adaptive-optics imaging spectrograph that achieved first light in November 2016 on the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. After receiving his PhD from UCLA in 2014, he has been a Dunlap Fellow at the University of Toronto. He has joined us as a KIPAC fellow working with the exoplanet group.

Chia-Hsun (Albert) Chuang joins us from the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam.

His research activities concern cosmology and in particular unveiling the nature of dark energy and galaxy formation, with a focus on modeling and analysis of galaxy clustering measurements. At present, he works on extracting dark energy constraints from the large scale structure of the universe using the upcoming Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), the ongoing Dark Energy Survey (DES), and extended Baryon Oscillation Sky Survey (eBOSS) projects.

Shawn Henderson joined the KIPAC’s CMB team as a research associate. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University where he led the design of the 150 GHz/220 GHz dual-frequency CMB and galactic dust camera for the Advanced Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile. At KIPAC, his work will extend into the BICEP program, as well as R&D towards the next-generation ground-based CMB experiment, CMB-S4. Prior to working on CMB cameras and analysis, Shawn was a WIMP hunter at MIT; his doctoral work was on directional dark matter detectors.

Daegene Koh is an expert in early structure formation and numerical simulations. He finished his PhD at Georgia Tech supervised by KIPAC alumni John Wise and joined us as a KIPAC Fellow to continue his work on the physics of the earliest galaxies. He has worked on semi-numeric reionization models of the first stars and galaxies and on the amplification of magnetic fields by the turbulence driven in early HII regions and supernovae remnants. He intends to work on early chemical enrichment and heavy element mixing, and extend the work on magnetic field amplification on early galaxies.

Ioannis Liodakis completed his PhD at the University of Crete with a thesis entitled “Unveiling the physics of the most active galaxies: connecting blazar theory and observations” and has joined us as a KIPAC fellow. He intends to continue to work on innovative ways of probing blazar physics by taking maximum advantage of the progress achieved in his thesis work and new multi-wavelength observations. The ultimate goal is to create a single comprehensive model that will be able to reproduce distributions of all the parameters of the blazar paradigm while at the same time containing as much blazar physics as possible.

Yuki Omori has just joined us this month; he completed his PhD at McGill University with a thesis focusing on the CMB weak lensing map from SPT and Planck, and associated work on the relevant algorithms. He intends to continue his work on the correlations between various cosmological probes, analyzing new data from the upcoming SPT-3G experiment, analyzing DES year 1 to year 5 data, and building data analysis pipelines for future experiments.

Krista Lynne Smith joined us as an Einstein Fellow after finishing her PhD thesis from the University of Maryland, entitled: “A Multi-wavelength Portrait of X-ray Selected AGN, Infrared Detection, Circumnuclear Star Formation and Variability.” She worked at both the University of Maryland and Goddard Space Flight Center. She studies the effects of AGN feedback on star formation in the nuclear regions of active galaxies, as well as Kepler-K2 optical light curves of active galaxies, to better understand the relationship between X-ray and optical emitting regions and the physical mechanisms underlying accretion onto supermassive black holes.

Yosuke Utsumi is joining the LSST team as a Research Scientist in November. Yosuke has been in charge of HinOTORI, a robotic three-color simultaneous imager in Tibet, and more recently contributed very significantly to Hyper Suprime-CAM on Subaru. He will be part of the exciting effort of assembling, integrating and testing the LSST camera at SLAC.


Ranjan Laha chose Mainz University as the location for his second postdoctoral fellowship. He will continue working on the origin of the most energetic neutrinos detected by Ice Cube.

Radek Wojtak returned to Dark Institute, Copenhagen where he continues his work on numerical cosmology.

Kyle Story has joined former KIPAC postdocs Sam Skillman and Ryan Keisler at Descartes Lab, where he will be working on image processing, machine learning, and climate change mitigation.

Vanessa Bailey took a staff position at JPL, where she will continue her research on exo-planets.

Elisabeth Krause is spending one year as a Research Fellow at JPL, before starting a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona.

Zvonimir Vlah started a second postdoc in the theoretical physics group at CERN.

Ji-hoon Kim who was a graduate student at KIPAC and later returned in the final year of his NASA Einstein fellowship has now joined Seoul National University as a faculty member.

Hiro Odaka took a position at the RIKEN institute in Tokyo, Japan. He will continue his analysis of Hitomi data, and will be working on modelling of X-ray emission from astrophysical sources.

Congrats also to former KIPAC student Peter Behroozi who started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, and former KIPAC student Keith Bechtol, who has accepted a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which he will start in Fall 2018 after finishing another year at LSST.

Graduate-level Physics courses for Spring quarter:

PHYSICS 252 - Introduction to Particle Physics
PHYSICS 261 - Introduction to Cosmology & Extragalactic Astrophysics
PHYSICS 268 - Physics with Neutrinos