Astronomy News

Vieira Wins Sloan Fellowship

2/21/2017  8:00 am

Prof. Joaquin Vieira, Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Assistant Professor Joaquin Vieira. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Joaquin Vieira, an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois and a faculty affiliate at the National Center for Computing Applications (NCSA) has been named a Sloan Research Fellow for 2017.

The Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in the United States and Canada in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field. The size of the award is $60,000 for the two-year period. 

Dr. Vieira, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and joined the Illinois faculty in 2013. He is an observational cosmologist who builds telescopes and cameras to study the cosmic microwave background and the evolution of the Universe. His scientific interests include galaxy evolution, the cosmic star formation history, the epoch of reionization, the expansion of the universe, dark matter, dark energy, cosmic neutrinos, and the epoch of inflation. He conducts observations across the electromagnetic spectrum using the South Pole Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). He is currently helping to build future millimeter and sub-millimeter facilities and pondering the cosmic evolution of dust.

He was a member of a research team that used the largest telescope on earth, ALMA, along with an effect of space-time predicted by Einstein (gravitational lensing) and with the Blue Waters supercomputer* at NCSA, to take the most sensitive picture of dark matter ever. He says this technique is going to become more important over the next few years, as researchers "hope to eventually constrain matters of dark matter and possibly even constrain the mass of the dark matter particle."

Closer to home, Dr. Vieira founded the Urbana branch of "Astronomy on Tap," a monthly gathering for the public to learn about astronomy through discussions with local astronomers over beer and pizza. The gathering just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Prof. Vieira is the fourth faculty member in the Department of Astronomy to win a Sloan Fellowship since 2012.

*Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation through awards ACI-0725070 and ACI-1238993.