Kara Hoffman Receives NSF MRI-R2 Grant

Kara Hoffman, a professor in our particle astrophysics group, has recently been awarded a Major Research Instrumentation-Recovery and Reinvestment (MRI-R2) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). MRI grants are for funding the purchase or development of new scientific instrumentation, and this special solicitation, funded through the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allowed for larger and more expensive initiatives to be considered. Hoffman received $1,477,750 in NSF funding for her proposal entitled "Collaborative Research: MRI-R2 Instrument Development of the Askaryan Radio Array, a Large-scale Radio Cherenkov Detector at the South Pole".

The Askaryan Radio Array (ARA), when realized, will be comprised of radio frequency antennas embedded in 200 m deep boreholes in the South Polar ice cap, encompassing an area of 80 square kilometers. These antennas will be used to monitor the ice for radio frequency impulses which occur when ultra high energy particles called neutrinos are captured in the ice. The very cold ice at the South Pole, which averages 2 miles in depth and temperatures of -60 degrees Fahrenheit near its surface, is extremely transparent to radio frequency emissions, allowing neutrinos interactions to be detected by antennas from several miles away. Neutrinos are interesting because they are fundamental particles that travel through the Universe unimpeded since they have virtually no mass and experience only weak interactions with matter. Some of them may propagate from their origin for billions of years, allowing them to form images of how the Universe may have appeared in the very distant past. They may also carry information about the cataclysmic processes at the dense cores of the astrophysical objects in which they are born. Neutrinos may also shed light on the enigmatic cosmic rays which constantly bombard our Earth's atmosphere, and will also provide a sensitive probe of particle physics and quantum gravity.

Prof. Hoffman's collaborators at the University of Wisconsin simultaneously submitted a linked collaborative proposal, for which they were awarded $1,317,885. These NSF grants, together with required contributions from their institutions, as well as foreign collaborators, gives them a total of 4 million dollars for the first phase of the project, which will span three years. They will commence construction at the South Pole in the coming austral summer, and Professor Hoffman expects to travel to the South Pole for the construction. She has previously visited the South Pole to work on her other project, IceCube, which is also a "neutrino telescope", but it uses light to detect neutrinos rather than radio waves.

James Drake Awarded SPD Popular Writing Award

James Drake and James Burch were awarded the Popular Writing Award by the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. They were selected for their article Reconnecting Magnetic Fields, which appeared in the American Scientist magazine’s September/October 2009 issue.

The award will be presented at the Annual Solar Physics Division meeting, on May 25, in Miami.

Patricia Lee Roos: 1940 - 2010

Pat Roos, wife of 47 years to Emeritus Professor Phillip Roos, died on May 1.   She was a member of the university community for many years. Roos wrote the following obituary:

Patricia “Pat” Lee (Nord) Roos, age 69, died on May 1, 2010 at her home in Ashton, MD after a year-long battle with lung cancer. Pat was born on July 3, 1940 in Wauseon, OH, the only child of Elmer (deceased) and Helen (Green) Nord. After attending Wauseon High School, Pat graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO in 1962. In 1963 she married Philip Grisier Roos in the First Christian Church of Wauseon. In 1964 they moved with their newly born daughter to Maryland when her husband took a position at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. They spent 1965-1968 in Oak Ridge, TN, returning to Maryland in 1968 where they remained until 2005. Pat worked at the University of Maryland from 1974-1992 as the editor of a monthly newsletter and of various research compilations for a science college. During her years in Maryland, she was active in the University of Maryland Women’s’ Golf Group, and worked as a volunteer at the Smithsonian Institution green houses, for the Trail Riders of Today (TROT), and for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. In 2005 Pat and Phil bought a home in Moss Creek Plantation, a golfing community in Hilton Head, SC. There, in addition to golf, Pat was active in a number of other community activities.

Pat had numerous interests and activities. She was an avid golfer, having taken it up while living in Tennessee. She had a lifetime love of horses, and owned a horse while growing up in Ohio until she went to college. Pat had the opportunity to renew her riding when she built a house in the countryside of Maryland and kept her horse “Whose He” and two friends’ horses at her home. She and her friends rode nearby trails frequently. Pat loved to travel, beginning with a seven month tour in Europe with friends Dede and Judy following college graduation. Over the years she made a number of trips to Europe and spent time in Canada, Turkey, South Africa, and a last trip to China and Tibet. Pat also loved to entertain and hosted many small and large parties for her many friends. She was a wonderful hostess.

Pat is survived by her husband Philip G. Roos of Hilton Head Island, SC; daughter Kirsten J. Roos of Ashton, MD; two grandsons, Heath A. Dennison of Lewis Center, OH and Chase P. Dennison of Ashton, MD; her mother Helen Green Nord Riches of Wauseon, OH; and a half-brother Richard Nord of Boise, ID. She is also survived by many relatives of the Grisier and Roos families, the Green families, and the Riches families; and by many wonderful friends.

A celebrations of Pat’s life will be held in Ashton, MD and Hilton Head, SC at a later date. Pat will be honored, if you would do a good deed for a person in need in her name.

Singer, Siberholz and Tuley Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships

Physics Alumnus Leo Singer,  Undergraduate Physics Majors Kaitlyn Tuley and John Siberholz have won NSF Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP). Singer is currently a first year graduate student at the California Institute of Technology. His field of study is in Gravitational Experiment. Siberholz and Tuley are graduating seniors at Maryland.

The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. GRFP Fellows receive three years of support, an annual stipend, cost-of-education allowance, one-time international travel allowance and TeraGrid Supercomputer access.