2 Doctoral Students Recognized for Astrophysics Research

NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Awards to Support Studies of Matter Structures

2 men at blackboard

Michael Troxel (left) and Austin Peel received NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium fellowships to support their astrophysics research. Both are graduate students in physics at UT Dallas.

Two University of Texas at Dallas graduate students are recipients of the NASA/Texas Space Grant Consortium Fellowship for 2012-13.

Austin Peel and Michael Troxel, both PhD students in the Department of Physics, are among 21 graduate students from 16 Texas institutions who have received $5,000 fellowships from the consortium. The award supports graduate study in space science and engineering.

The fellowship recognizes excellence in research and reflects well on the quality of UT Dallas students, said Dr. Mustapha Ishak-Boushaki, associate professor of physics and advisor to both students.

“Austin and Michael work on exact analytical models to study the rate at which matter structures have been clustering in the universe for the last 13.7 billion years,” Ishak-Boushaki explained. “Their insights will allow researchers to make wider interpretations of cosmological observations.”

In his research, Peel uses analytical calculations and numerical methods to examine large-scale structures in the universe. His results may lead to a better understanding of the history of matter structure formation, which could have implications for cosmology theories.

Troxel works with a technique called gravitational lensing, which can be used to more accurately measure the distribution and density of matter in the universe. His research, aimed at improving gravitational lensing techniques, could help deepen the understanding of dark matter, which is believed to be five times more prevalent in the universe than ordinary matter.

Troxel and his recent work in cosmology have begun to attract attention from other institutions. He has been invited to discuss his research at Southern Methodist University on Monday, March 25.

“Michael has done outstanding work in gravitational lensing and self-calibration of galaxy alignments, and it has been very well received by the astrophysics community,” Ishak-Boushaki said. “He presented results at the latest meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and was invited to visit and collaborate with researchers at Caltech and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.”

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 50 institutions, including universities, industry, nonprofits and government agencies working to ensure that the benefits of space research and technologies are available to all Texans. There are 52 space grant consortia nationwide.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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