Carnegie Mellon University
July 24, 2021

Matthew Ho Wins Peoples Fellowship

By Ben Panko

Physics Ph.D. candidate Matthew Ho has received the John Peoples, Jr. Research Fellowship in Physics. The fellowship, which supports graduate students in the Department of Physics, is named after Carnegie Mellon alumnus John Peoples, Jr., a physicist who directed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. 

Ho's research looks at applying machine learning to observational cosmology. "My thesis work involves using novel advancements in deep neural networks to model the relationship between galaxy cluster masses and their observable properties in cosmological simulation data," Ho said. 

"Galaxy clusters contain large amounts of cold dark matter, hot ionized gas and tens to hundreds of visible galaxies, and are excellent laboratories for studying astrophysics and cosmology," noted Ho's advisor, Associate Professor of Physics Hy Trac. 

"To constrain cosmology using cluster abundances, the next-generation of large-scale sky surveys will require robust and efficient methods for recovering cluster masses from sparse observables," Ho explained. "The new automated machine learning methods that we are developing in my thesis research will be vital tools well-positioned to fit this demand for current and upcoming surveys." 

"He has strong data science skills and has developed and applied Bayesian neural networks for estimating posteriors/uncertainties for inference with deep learning," Trac said of Ho's work. "He is currently applying his approach to infer the mass of the famous Coma cluster, where Fritz Zwicky first postulated the existence of dark matter." 

Ho said the Peoples Fellowship will allow him to focus more on his research and publications during the final part of his Ph.D. studies. "Our novel research generating deep learning mass estimates from multi-wavelength cluster observations is fully coming to fruition, so it will be an exciting time to devote myself to my research efforts," he said. 

Outside of his research work, Ho said he enjoys biking and playing soccer on the Physics departmental team Manfred United.