November 20, 2007 - Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology Announces New Deputy Director
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Date Issued: November 20, 2007
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Menlo Park, CAStanford astrophysicist Sarah Church is the new deputy director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute based at Stanford University and the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
"Astrophysics is at an extremely exciting stage, and KIPAC is at the leading edge of the field," said Church. "The projects we are involved in hold real prospects for understanding how the universe began, including the nature of dark energy and dark matter—which together make up 96 percent of the universe—and for understanding the environments of exotic objects such as black holes and neutron stars."
The theoretical and experimental scientists at the four-year-old institute collaborate on research that includes black hole physics, galaxy clusters, the radiation left over from the birth of the universe, galaxy formation, and the way ancient light is focused by the gravity of invisible objects. KIPAC is an important contributor to both existing and proposed telescopes in space and on the ground.
For her research, Church has gone to one end of the earth—the South Pole—to detect the first few moments of the universe's life. Her group builds instrumentation to observe the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB) at millimeter wavelengths. "The CMB is a virtually pristine relic of conditions in the universe approximately 400,000 years after the Big Bang. Our research uses telescopes located at some of the best sites in the world for millimeter wavelength astronomy, including the South Pole and the Chilean Andes."
After completing graduate and postgraduate work in her native England, Church came to California, first working at UC Berkeley and Caltech, and then at Stanford since 1999.
"I am very pleased that Sarah has agreed to take on this important job," said KIPAC Director Roger Blandford. "She brings to it considerable experience of working in the Stanford community and a strong desire to foster a broader experimental astrophysics program within KIPAC. I am already enjoying working with her."
by Kelen Tuttle