DiRAC Researcher Part of Inaugural Cohort of New NSF Fellows

September 15, 2021 | DiRAC NEWS

DiRAC Fellow Rebecca Phillipson has been awarded a Mathematical and Physical Sciences Ascending Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (MPS-Ascend) to conduct a program of research and education at the University of Washington. This new prize fellowship is intended to recognize beginning investigators of significant potential, and provide them with experience in research that will broaden participation in mathematics and the physical sciences.

Dr. Phillipson plans to employ statistical methods from nonlinear dynamics paired with deep learning techniques to characterize and classify the millions of X-ray Binaries (XRBs) and Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) observed by the Zwicky Transient Facility. The resulting classification will enable discovery of previously unknown XRBs and AGN, potentially illuminate undersampled or undiscovered modes of variability from these sources, and prepare a path of discovery for future time domain missions. The research program will also operate as a vehicle for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to engage in both data science and astrophysics research.  She will partner with the UW eScience Institute to develop an accessible website for the dissemination of the scientific results from her research program. A key feature of her data access plan is enabling visually impaired scientists to interact with the data by using sounds to facilitate feature detection and analysis. This approach, called sonification, uses existing software tools to map scientific data to acoustic sequences.

“Dr. Phillipson’s research exemplifies our aims for the DiRAC Institute: she develops innovative timeseries analysis methods and applies them to large datasets to enable new discovery,” says Prof. James Davenport, Associate Director of DiRAC.  “We’re thrilled that her excellent research and contributions to inclusion have been recognized with this fellowship, and look forward to continuing to collaborate.”