IceCube Research Center names first Bahcall Fellowship winners

October 6, 2011

The IceCube Research Center (IRC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has selected two promising astrophysicists as the first recipients of the John Bahcall Fellowship for neutrino astronomy.

Markus Ahlers and Claudio Kopper will join the Madison-based IceCube group to pursue particle astrophysics research as postdoctoral fellows. Each receives a stipend and an independent research budget.

The new postdoctoral fellowship program was created in honor of the late John Bahcall, a prominent researcher in the field of neutrino astronomy and founding member of the IceCube experiment, who was known for his innovative work on the physics of the sun.

Ahlers, who was awarded a five-year fellowship, comes to the IRC from the University of Oxford and Stony Brook University. He has been a member of the IceCube collaboration since 2007, following receipt of his Ph.D. degree from the University of Hamburg, Germany.

Ahlers’ research interests span multiple aspects of neutrino astronomy, including neutrino production associated with the acceleration and propagation of cosmic rays and gamma rays. His work to detect these faint neutrino fluxes aids understanding of high energetic phenomena in the universe, one of the main scientific goals of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory.

Kopper, of the Netherlands’ Institute for Subatomic Physics in Amsterdam, was awarded a three-year Bahcall fellowship. He received his Ph.D. degree in 2010 from the University of Erlangen, Germany, where he worked on optimizing the layout of the KM3NeT neutrino telescope planned for construction in the Mediterranean Sea.

Kopper has made major contributions to understanding the physics potential of the current design of KM3NeT. He is also currently active in the IceCube collaboration, creating simulations for a planned low-energy upgrade of IceCube.

“We had many excellent candidates for the Bahcall fellowhip,” says UW–Madison physics professor Stefan Westerhoff. “We look forward to having Markus and Claudio join the team here in Madison. With their impressive research backgrounds, they will contribute greatly to the project.”

In addition to IceCube, the fellowship recipients may become involved with other related experimental and theoretical activities in astroparticle and neutrino physics at the UW–Madison.

The IRC at UW–Madison works together with the international IceCube Collaboration to operate and maintain the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole in Antarctica, a project supported by the National Science Foundation and other international funding agencies. Related IRC/UW-Madison Department of Physics projects include the High Altitude Water Cherenkov experiment, the Askaryan Radio Array, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, Dark Matter-Ice and the Pierre Auger Observatory.