This is the unofficial website of the NSF AAPF program, run by the fellows themselves. For official information about the fellowship, please go to the NSF program announcement.
There is mounting evidence suggesting that the total collimation-corrected energy released in gamma-rays bursts (GRB) is narrowly distributed around a standard energy of 1051 ergs. This has lead to speculation on the possibility of using the prompt emission from GRBs as new standard candles that would be insensitive to extinction, allowing cosmological studies to be extended to redshifts well beyond the range of SN Ia surveys, even out to redshifts at the epoch of reionization. The distances at which GRBs are observed make them ideal candidates to probe the transition between a decelerating universe to the current accelerating, cosmological constant dominated universe. If sufficiently calibrated, GRBs may also place constraints on the recent equation of state of dark energy and its time evolution. My NSF fellowship focuses on working with Josh Bloom and Saul Perlmutter at UC Berkeley to investigate calibrations to the prompt GRB emission using data from the upcoming Swift spacecraft, with the primary goal of discovering additional corrections to GRB energies that would allow Swift data to be used in conjunction with upcoming SNe surveys to constrain cosmological parameters.
The education aspect of my fellowship focuses on prisoner education through the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison. This program offers an array of courses leading to an Associate of Arts degree in liberal arts and I'm working with the current program director to establish, and teach pre-algebra and intro physics and astronomy courses at the prison. I also plan on working with various student organizations to organize volunteer recruitment programs at UC Berkeley.