Carnegie Mellon University
September 13, 2019

Ph.D. Student Nianyi Chen Wins John Peoples, Jr. Research Fellowship in Physics

By Ben Panko

Ph.D. Student Nianyi Chen has received the John Peoples, Jr. Research Fellowship in Physics. The fellowship is named after Carnegie Mellon alumnus John Peoples, Jr., a physicist who directed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. It provides graduate students in the Department of Physics with a stipend and $1,000 for education-related expenses to allow them to focus on their research.

A member of Associate Professor of Physics Hy Trac’s lab, Chen is working to simulate the Epoch of Reionization—the time in the early life of the universe when the first stars and galaxies formed and started to ionize neutral hydrogen. "Our simulation aims at understanding the history of the early universe when direct observations of this epoch are limited," Chen said.

Her simulations will show how the observed cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation of the universe is affected by reionization and will provide researchers working on future observational surveys of the CMB with a better idea of how and when reionization happened.

"We recruited her for our Ph.D. program and were thrilled when she accepted our offer," Trac said of Chen. "Nianyi is making excellent progress and I expect she will produce many new results in the near future."

"I'm really honored to receive the Peoples fellowship," Chen said. "This fellowship helps me focus more on my research and hopefully will enable me to get my first paper finished sometime next semester."

Chen also looks forward to spending the year of her fellowship reading cosmology literature and texts to formulate ideas about where her research can head next.