Kevin Bandura receives Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, March 3, 2008

Kevin Bandura receives Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship

Graduate student Kevin Bandura is a 2008 recipient of the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Fellowship in the Mellon College of Science. The fellowship, established in 2007 by alumnus Bruce McWilliams, chairman, president and CEO of Tessera Technologies; and his wife, Astrid McWilliams, provides tuition, stipend and fees for up to one year of graduate study, as well as $1000 for conference travel or other research expenses. The MCS Dean’s Office has matched the McWilliams’ generous gift this year with additional funds to provide full support for two outstanding recipients. Both Bandura and He exemplify the purpose of the fellowship — to support graduate students conducting leading-edge research in emerging fields such as nanotechnology, biophysics and cosmology.

“Thanks to the McWilliams’ extraordinary support, we have this outstanding opportunity to invest in excellent graduate students in key research areas,” said Fred Gilman, acting dean of the Mellon College of Science and Buhl Professor of Theoretical Physics.

Kevin Bandura, a fifth year doctoral student in Physics working with Professor Jeff Peterson, is investigating whether a new technique called three-dimensional intensity mapping of the universe is feasible for studying huge volumes of the universe using very simple inexpensive telescopes. Obtaining this type of data is key for studying dark energy, a non-luminous energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe. To look for evidence of dark energy’s effects, Bandura has assembled a prototype interferometer that can detect the characteristic radio emissions from neutral hydrogen — a telescope that can map wide regions of the sky. Observing the sky in this manner allows Bandura to study the history of the expansion of the universe and constrain current models of dark energy’s effect in the universe. He is also investigating whether his custom telescope is necessary to carry out these mapping tests of dark energy or if an existing single-dish telescope can do the job. To accomplish this task, Bandura will be collecting data using the Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, located at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s site in Green Bank, West Virginia. He then will compare that data to the data collected by the prototype telescope he has built. Bandura earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Carnegie Mellon.

 See also the MCS news item.