Carnegie Mellon University
May 04, 2016

MCS Students Earn Education and Research Awards

By Amy Pavlak Laird

MCS Students Earn Education and Research Awards

Clive Newstead, Rebecca Alford and Shadab AlamClive Newstead, Rebecca Alford and Shadab Alam

The Mellon College of Science (MCS) presented its awards for education and research during the college’s annual faculty meeting on Monday, May 2. Winners included Shadab Alam, Rebecca Alford and Clive Newstead.

The Guy C. Berry Graduate Research Award, which recognizes excellence in research by MCS graduate students, was presented to Shadab Alam, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics. Alam uses detailed maps of the sky to uncover the nature of gravity at large scales, the point at which Einstein’s theory of general relativity breaks down. Working with Associate Physics Professor Shirley Ho, Alam uses data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III and other large sky surveys to measure the large-scale structure of the universe, which can be used to test models of modified gravity. In one of his most recent analyses, he took measurements of the growth rate of galaxies, which allowed him to quantify galaxy velocities using redshift space distortions (RSD), from six different galaxy redshift surveys and combined it with Cosmic Microwave Background data. His analysis improved all constraints on various modified gravity models and provides the current best constraints on dark energy, curvature of the universe and an upper limit on the redshift of re-ionization. In addition to his work on RSD, he is also leading the analysis on constraining gravity by combining galaxy-galaxy lensing from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey with galaxy clustering in the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. “Shadab is quickly becoming an expert in probing gravity through many different cosmological probes,” Ho said. “His maturity and intellectual firepower have made him not only a highly valued member of my own research group but also at the McWilliams Center for Cosmology at Carnegie Mellon.”

Rebecca Alford received the Dr. J. Paul Fugassi and Linda E. Monteverde Award, which is presented to a graduating female senior with the greatest academic achievement and professional promise. A chemistry major, Alford plans to pursue her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Her ultimate goal is to become a professor and lead her own research group that will build computational tools to deeply explore the connection between genetic sequence, protein structure and function, and disease. Alford was recently named a Hertz Fellow, one of 12 college seniors and first-year graduate students nationwide to receive the honor. Read more.

Clive Newstead, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, received the Hugh D. Young Graduate Teaching Award, which recognizes effective teaching by graduate students. Newstead is a bit of a legend in the Math Department. Students often attend his recitations even though they aren’t assigned to his section, and many of his former students still seek out his help long after they have had him as a TA in class. Newstead’s enthusiasm for teaching and dedication to his students was recently honored with Carnegie Mellon’s Graduate Student Teaching Award. Read more.