New UCI program in modern cosmology to help address fundamental questions about the universe

August 27, 2004

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 27, 2004 -- The UC Irvine Department of Physics and Astronomy has established a research program in modern cosmology - an entirely new field of research at the university.

The new program builds upon the department's existing strengths in particle physics, particle astrophysics, astrophysics and astronomy, thus expanding the current research at the university to the study of nature at not only the smallest but also the largest scales. As a result, the program - established in July - enables scientists at UCI to investigate profound questions at a level of depth and breadth that exists currently at very few other institutions.

Cosmology, one of the oldest sciences, is the exploration of the structure and evolution of the universe. Modern cosmology originated with Einstein's relativistic theory of gravitation and the discovery of cosmic expansion by Hubble in the 1920s. It has since led to the "big bang" cosmic model and, in recent years, advances in the field led scientists to new concepts such as dark matter and dark energy.

"Given our existing programs, we are well positioned to have a significant impact on the emerging field of modern cosmology," said Andrew J. Lankford, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "We are already exploring many of the outstanding fundamental questions such as what is dark matter, what is the nature of dark energy, did Einstein have the last word on gravity, are there additional space-time dimensions, and so on.

"Significant new observational data, made available recently, have made cosmology a fertile field of study. With future experiments, this will continue to be the case, with more and better data expected from satellite-borne missions. It is therefore an exciting time for the department to have cosmology as one of its programs."

To launch the new program, the department has added four new cosmologists to its faculty:

Elizabeth J. Barton received her doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University in 1999. She has held a prestigious Hubble Fellowship at the University of Arizona (2001-2004) and a National Research Council Canada Research Associateship (1999-2001). She is an astrophysical observer with research interests in galaxy evolution, star formation in the earliest galaxies, the relationship between star formation and galactic environment, and the development of the next generation of large optical/infrared telescopes.

James S. Bullock received his doctorate in physics from UC Santa Cruz in 1999. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State University (1999-2001) and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (2001-2004). At Harvard, he held a prestigious Hubble Fellowship. He is a theoretical astrophysicist and cosmologist. His primary interest involves studies of the evolution of structure in the universe.

Asantha R. Cooray received his doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago in 2001. Since that time, he has been a Sherman Fairchild Senior Research Fellow in theoretical astrophysics at Caltech. He is a theoretical cosmologist conducting research in cosmology and astrophysics, which includes studying the early universe, the cosmic microwave background, galaxy clusters, the outer solar system and planetary atmospheres.

Manoj Kaplinghat received his doctorate in physics from Ohio State University in 1999. He has been a research associate at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago (1999-2001) and in the Department of Physics at UC Davis (2001-2004). He is a theoretical cosmologist. His primary research interest involves the study of the cosmic microwave background. He has also worked on a number of other cosmological problems.
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About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with approximately 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

UCI maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media. To access, visit: www.today.uci.edu/experts.

University of California - Irvine

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