DiRAC Researcher Part of Inaugural Cohort of New NSF Fellows

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.”

Announcing the LSSTC Catalyst Fellowships

The LSST Corporation, a non-profit consortium of approximately 30 research institutions (including UW), has received $7 million to establish the LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship Funded by the John Templeton Foundation. These will support early-career researchers as they study big data generated from the soon-to-be-completed Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile.

Asteroid Day LIVE 2021

Learn more about the first planetary defence mission on this year’s Asteroid Day LIVE

The full LIVE program schedule here will broadcast on June 30th, 2021 and it will repeat until July 4th, 2021. Watch the program live here at asteroidday.org

Asteroid Day is a global day of awareness and public education about asteroids. At science centers, schools, museums, universities, and community centers around the world events are being held to learn about the origin and composition of asteroids and how to deflect, detect and map their trajectories in our solar system to protect us from potential impacts and many more subjects relating to asteroids. There are thousands of events from around the world. A vision of self organized events around the world has come true with over 125 countries hosting events this year, on June 30th, 2021.

Top-End Assembly (TEA) on the Summit

A major milestone was reached in the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory last week. The “Top End Assembly”, which holds the secondary mirror (M2), was lowered into place within the massive enclosure. Though this is the smaller mirror on Rubin, M2 is a whopping 3.4-meters in diameter, and weighs over 1500 lbs.

This assembly milestone brings the observatory much closer to its expected beginning of full operations sometime in 2023. DiRAC and UW are playing a leading role in the development of software to support and operate the first phase of Rubin: the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). UW is also one of the four founding members of the LSST Corporation.

More details on TEA on the Summit here.