DIRAC Postdoctoral Positions

The DIRAC Institute in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington is seeking applicants with a strong research record in the development of statistical techniques or algorithms for analyzing large astrophysical data sets for two postdoctoral positions.

AstroML: The first position is to help in the development of the second edition of astroML (http://astroml.org) a popular Python-based machine learning package for astrophysics. New components we are incorporating within astroML include methodologies from deep learning and hierarchical bayesian statistics. Special emphasis will be placed on building a broader community and making astroML a sustainable open-source project. The successful candidate will lead these activities, including the application of the new codes to dataset available to UW researchers.

Time Series Data: The second position is to develop new approaches for analyzing astronomical time series data using modern computational frameworks. The goal of this framework will be to enable science with the ZTF and LSST data sets. Promising applicants should possess an interest in time domain science and experience or interest in the use of databases and large scale compute platforms such as Spark, Dask, or similar. Good Python skills, and experience with machine learning libraries, image processing of astronomical images, or astronomical databases are desirable.

The DIRAC Institute is a newly formed center for data intensive astrophysics at the University of Washington. The Institute consists of six faculty and senior fellows, and over 20 postdoctoral researchers and research scientists. It has active research programs in Cosmology, Solar System science, Milky-Way structure, the Variable and Transient universe, andAstronomical Software.

The University of Washington is a partner in the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) project, a new time-domain survey which will begin operations in early 2018. The UW is a founding partner of the LSST project, and leads the construction of its time domain and solar system processing pipelines. Other research activities at UW/DIRAC include topics in extragalactic science, as well as the understanding the structure, formation, and evolution of the Milky Way using large surveys (SDSS, WISE, PanSTARRS PS1, and others).

A Ph.D. degree in astronomy, physics, computer science, or a related subject is required. The initial appointment is for two years, renewable up to three years, and offers competitive salary and benefits. The appointments are available immediately and are expected to start no later than September 2018.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, description of research interests (with links to Github if relevant) and arrange for three letters of reference to be submitted to Nikolina Horvat at horvat@uw.edu with subject line “DIRAC postdoc application (your name)”. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled, to assure full consideration, please send your application by Dec 31st 2017

For detailed information about the benefits available through the University of Washington, including dental, medical and disability insurance, retirement, and childcare centers, see the University of Washington benefits page: https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/.

The DIRAC Institute is a community of people with diverse interests and areas of expertise, engaged in the understanding of our universe through the analysis of large and complex data sets. We are an open, ethical, highly engaged and collaborative community based on trust, transparency and mutual respect. We believe in providing a welcoming and inclusive environment, in the importance of quality of life, in embracing diversity, in making a difference and having fun.

2018-08-03 Seminar: David van Dyk

When: August 3, 2018 @ 3:00 pm 
Where: PAB, WRF Data Science Studio, 6th floor

David A van Dyk, Statistics Section, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London

Quantifying Discovery in Astro/Particle Physics: Frequentist and Bayesian Perspective

Statistical discovery questions in astrophysics and high-energy physics often involve mathematical subtleties that mean standard methods (e.g., chi-square) are inappropriate and can lead to misleading results. At the same time Bayesian and classical statistical techniques can lead researchers to differing conclusions. Moreover modern computational strategies are typically infeasible under extreme discovery criteria (4 sigma or more).  This talk explores the statistical challenges that arise in the quantification of discovery and suggests a strategy that combines Bayesian and classical statistical techniques to tackle these challenges.  

1st LSST Solar Systems Readiness Sprint

DIRAC Institute is hosting the 1st LSST Solar System Readiness Sprint, July 10-12, 2018 at the University of Washington. This is a LSST Solar System Science collaboration workshop to begin getting ready for LSST solar system science.

Happy Asteroid Day!

Live coverage is available here.

Astronauts, astronomers, scientists, students, teachers, and interested citizens around the world are coming together at this very moment to learn about and discuss asteroids.

Participate in the global conversation online right now
or at event near you today!

UW is participating in Asteroid Day, a global day of education to help protect Earth from potentially hazardous asteroid. The movie below shows how UW LSST and DIRAC’s astronomical software group is assisting that effort by making the LSST an unprecedented asteroid discovery machine.

Asteroid Day: University of Washington & LSST from Nikolina Horvat on Vimeo.


Visitors: Michael Hayden

June 27th-29th, 2018

I work on Galactic Archaeology, which is the study of the structure and evolution of the Milky Way. I did my PhD at New Mexico State University working with Jon Holtzman and Jo Bovy with the APOGEE survey, which is an SDSS3 and SDSS4 spectroscopic survey of several hundred thousand red giants across the Milky Way. I spent two years working in Nice at the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur with the Gaia-ESO and AMBRE projects, which have spectroscopic observations of tens of thousands of stars throughout the Galaxy. 

Currently, I am an ASTRO 3D fellow working at the University of Sydney with the GALAH Survey. GALAH  is a large-scale spectroscopic survey of 500,000 stars throughout the Milky Way, and aims to measure chemical abundances for 30 different elements to map and chemically tag the stellar populations of the Galaxy. In my talk, “Chemical Cartography of the Milky Way”, I will discuss the chemodynamic properties of different stellar populations throughout the disk and how they vary with location.

I attached a figure of some preliminary results from the GALAH survey, showing how the chemical structure of the disk varies from the inner Galaxy to the edge of the disk.

Dr. Gwendolyn Eadie received the J.S. Plaskett Medal

Gwen Eadie

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Gwendolyn Eadie as the 2018 recipient of the J. S. Plaskett Medal.

Dr. Eadie completed her doctoral studies at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. William Harris. In her thesis entitled “Lights in Dark Places: Inferring the Milky Way Mass Profile using Galactic Satellites and Hierarchical Bayes”, she developed a high-level statistical method to derive the mass and mass distribution within astrophysical systems. Mass is a fundamental variable driving the evolution of galaxies like our Milky Way, but it is notoriously difficult to measure due to the fact that it is dominated by the dark matter extending well beyond the visible starlight. This challenge is compounded by incomplete data on the positions and velocities of “tracer particles” such as stars, star clusters and dwarf satellites scattered through the galaxy’s halo. Dr. Eadie developed a powerful Bayesian formulation of the problem combined with Markov Chain Monte Carlo calculations of the relevant parameters in the problem and their probability distributions. Her formulation also included a hierarchical treatment of measurement uncertainties for each tracer. She used it to place a new constraint on the mass profile and total mass of the Milky Way, and it will be a very powerful tool in the exploitation of future very large datasets from the Gaia mission and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). .

CASCA congratulates Dr. Eadie on the receipt of the 2018 Plaskett medal for her groundbreaking work to shed light on the dark side of our Milky Way galaxy and other corners of the Universe.

Source: casca.ca

Read full announcement here.

DiRAC Institute in B612 Press Release

Asteroid Institute Announces New Appointments

Dr. Sarah Greenstreet and Bryce Bolin named first senior research fellows.

SILICON VALLEY, CA/SEATTLE WASH. (May 17,2018) — The Asteroid Institute has announced new appointments in the field of planetary defense and asteroids. Dr. Sarah Greenstreet and Bryce Bolin have been selected to serve as the first Senior Research Fellows, under the direction of Dr. Ed Lu, Executive Director of the Asteroid Institute, three time NASA astronaut, former Google executive and co-founder of B612 Foundation. The fellows study the application of new technologies for the discovery, tracking and potential deflection of asteroids.

Read full article here.




DiRAC Institute in GeekWire

How number crunchers could help crack the cosmological mystery of dark energy

BY ALAN BOYLE on May 15, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Big data just might give astronomers a better grip on the answer to one of the biggest questions in physics: Exactly what’s behind the mysterious acceleration in the expansion rate of the universe, also known as dark energy?

Read the full article here.

Visitors: Petar Zečević

April 15th-May 5th, 2018. 

Petar Zečević is a PhD student from University of Zagreb, Croatia. He has been working in the software industry for more than 15 years, as a full-stack developer, consultant, analyst, and team leader. Petar is the author of Spark in Action book (Manning, September 2016). He also gives talks on Apache Spark, organizes monthly Apache Spark Zagreb meetups, and has several Apache Spark projects behind him.


DIRAC Institute Open House, May 14th, 2018

We would like to thank all of you who attended the lecture by Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter to celebrate the opening of our DiRAC Institute.
It was a wonderful and inspiring evening that demonstrated how our understanding of the universe might change as a result of the data from a new generation of telescopes and satellites that will come on line over the next few years. We were very happy that you could join us and share this excitement and hope that, over the coming months, you will follow the work and discoveries that will come from the DiRAC Institute.
If you would like to hear about some of the research going on at DiRAC Institute you can watch our team describe some of their research highlights or check the news on our site. We would also welcome your support of the students and researchers at the DiRAC Institute.

Thank you again for participating in the inaugural DIRAC Institute Open House!

2011 Nobel Laureate, Dr. Saul Perlmutter inspired us by his lecture
“What We Learn When We Learn the Universe is Accelerating”.

In his talk, Dr. Perlmutter described how supernova observations led to the Nobel-prize winning discovery of dark energy and the acceleration of the universe, and how modern methods for collecting data are changing the ways we ask questions, conduct research, and make discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. 
About the Speaker 

Saul Perlmutter is a 2011 Nobel Laureate, sharing the prize in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe. He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair, and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project, and director of both the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard and his PhD from UC Berkeley. In addition to other awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Perlmutter has also written popular articles, and has appeared in numerous PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC documentaries. His interest in teaching scientific approaches to problem-solving for non-scientists led to Berkeley courses on Sense and Sensibility and Science and Physics & Music.

What We Learn When We Learn that the Universe is Accelerating 

The 1998 discovery that the universe’s expansion is accelerating was not only unexpected, but also led to the idea of a previously-unknown “dark energy” forming almost three-quarters of the “stuff” that makes up the universe. How was this discovery made? How did new ways of thinking about the collection of data make this discovery possible? What has been the progress since in understanding this dark energy, the accelerating universe, and potentially the fate of the universe? In this illuminating and provoking talk Dr. Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Laureate, will describe the observations that led to the discovery of “dark energy” and how our ability to collect data at ever increasing rates is changing the way we undertake science and and the discoveries we can make. 


2018-02-20 Seminar: Jean-Charles Cuillandre, CEA-Saclay/Observatoire de Paris

When: February 20, 2018 @ 12:30 – 1:30pm
Where: PAB, B305, 3rd floor

The challenge of the distributed Euclid survey:

The ESA Euclid space mission core science goals rely on complementary deep ground-based surveys covering both the northern and southern galactic caps. This talk will present an overview of the space survey design and the current status of the ground-based survey campaign, with a focus on its first element, CFHT’s Canada-France Imaging Survey.