UCSC hosts International Summer Institute for Modeling in Astrophysics

The University of California, Santa Cruz, has launched a new summer institute that brings together scientists and students from a broad range of backgrounds to study current problems in theoretical astrophysics.

The first International Summer Institute for Modeling in Astrophysics (ISIMA) will take place at UC Santa Cruz from July 5 to August 13, 2010. In future years, the location of the institute will alternate between UCSC and other host institutions worldwide.

The six-week program this summer will focus on "Transport Processes in Astrophysics," a broad topic encompassing several areas, such as the effects of magnetic fields and the transport of energy by photons in astrophysical plasmas, that are important for understanding everything from planet formation and the evolution of stars, to the structures of massive galaxies.

The institute brings together senior faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students to create an intense multidisciplinary environment for collaborative research and teaching. ISIMA is dedicated to training promising students and postdoctoral researchers, providing them with a unique research experience and opportunities to meet world-caliber scientists and future colleagues. UC Santa Cruz is a leading institution in the field of theoretical astrophysics, and ISIMA will welcome many top scientists from other institutions.

"We want to create a community of scientists at different stages in their careers to provide mentoring for students and postdocs and to work together on challenging modeling projects. The institute also brings together people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise to share ideas. The overall aim is to promote excellence in the field of astrophysics," said organizer Pascale Garaud, who is helping to support the institute with funds from her National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Garaud, an assistant professor of applied mathematics and statistics in the Baskin School of Engineering at UCSC, studies the interior dynamics of stars and other problems in astrophysical and geophysical fluid dynamics. She said the idea for ISIMA is based on a similar program that she has been involved in for many years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program at WHOI began in 1959 and has been extremely influential in many fields, including oceanography, geophysics, atmospheric sciences, and applied mathematics.

"We are trying to export that same framework to astrophysics, and a lot of the people involved in ISIMA have experience in the Woods Hole program," Garaud said.

Enrollment in the full six-week program for this summer is now closed, but the workshop from July 6 to 10 is open to all. The workshop will include morning introductory lectures by the senior faculty and afternoon short presentations on current state-of-the-art research by selected participants.

The scientific organizing committee for ISIMA 2010 includes Garaud; Nicholas Brummell, associate professor of applied mathematics and statistics at UCSC; Mark Krumholz, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC; Patrick Diamond, professor of physics at UC San Diego; and Michel Rieutord, professor of astrophysics at the Midi-Pyrénées Observatory in Toulouse, France.

In addition to Garaud's NSF funding, ISIMA is currently funded by the Insitute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP); Center for Origin, Dynamics, and Evolution of Planets; the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at UCSC; and the France-Berkeley Fund.