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Emma Clarke Awarded Pake Fellowship

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Jocelyn Duffy
Mellon College of Science

With advisers on two continents, scheduling meetings can be a challenge for Emma Clarke.

This fall, the Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Physics(opens in new window) is spending several months in Sweden working at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (Nordita), part of the University of Stockholm, which will make meeting with one of her advisers, Axel Brandenburg, much easier.

"One perk is no longer having the time difference and having the same overlapping working hours for meetings. It's good for learning more about the simulations and modifying that code with collaborators. It's just a bit easier to look at each other's screens and have that live interaction," said Clarke who is studying astrophysics and cosmology(opens in new window) under the guidance of Brandenburg and Associate Research Professor Tina Kahniashvili(opens in new window), who has worked with her for three years.

"Emma is a deep-thinking student. She's very creative in her research," Kahniashvili said. "The subject that she's working on is very multidisciplinary and requires novel perspectives of physics, astronomy and numerical simulations. I'm happy for her to have this opportunity."

Clarke is studying gravitational waves from the very early universe to predict their background source signatures. While in Sweden she is working on magnetic hydrodynamic simulations with the use of supercomputers and Pencil Code, which was developed by Brandenburg, to solve partial differential equations on massively parallel machines.

The extended stay is courtesy of Clarke's recent award of the George E. and Marjorie S. Pake Fellowship in Physics.

The fellowship, which supports a Department of Physics graduate student, is named after George E. Pake, a physicist who studied nuclear magnetic resonance and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and his wife Marjorie. After spending time as a professor and provost at Washington University of St. Louis, where he conducted research that contributed to the rise of magnetic resonance imaging, Pake served as the founding director of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation that supported pioneering research into computing.

Clarke said she came to Carnegie Mellon because of the depth and breadth of the cosmology group, which includes research in computational, observational and theoretical areas.

"I wasn't exactly sure what route to take within cosmology and that gave me some options to explore," she said. "And CMU has a physics research rotation program where it's encouraged to try different groups before picking your thesis adviser."

Brandenburg is an adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon as well as a professor of astrophysics at Nordita and the University of Stockholm.

When in Pittsburgh, Clarke serves as a graduate teaching assistant for courses such as Matter and Interactions and Mathematical Methods of Physics as well as teaching Introduction to Astronomy. She also competes with the CMU Figure Skating Club intercollegiate team.

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