Matthew Kunz, Assistant Professor of Astrophysical Sciences, has received a five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is the agency’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty. The accompanying $882,000 grant — co-funded equally by the Division of Astronomical Sciences and the Division of Physics, with additional funds from the NSF Office of Multidisciplinary Activities — will support Kunz’s research on the origins and evolution of cosmic magnetic fields, and will finance a program of biennial summer schools to train and inspire underrepresented groups to choose careers in plasma physics and astrophysics.
The summer schools will build upon a 2019 school held at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, which Kunz co-organized and which was jointly funded by the NSF and the Topical Group of Plasma Astrophysics (GPAP) of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics. That school provided 3 days of instruction on the fundamental physics of astrophysical and space plasmas to 20 upper-level undergraduate students and early-career graduate students, many of whom came from colleges and universities that lack courses in plasma physics.
This CAREER award supports Kunz’s frontier research and educational efforts related to space and astrophysical plasmas, promoting the use of sophisticated analytical and numerical tools and techniques for the advancement of plasma science and theoretical astrophysics. The research will combine traditional analytical methods with state-of-the-art supercomputer simulations, some of which will use the Texas Advanced Computer Center’s NSF-funded supercomputer Frontera, on which Kunz’s group has recently been allocated the use of 2.33 million node-hours.