The nominations for the Physics Postdoc Prize 2021 were numerous and of an exceptionally high quality this year and it was incredibly difficult to select a “best” paper. After much deliberation the two winners are as follows:
Rosalie Thompson (Cresswell)
Importance of Water in Maintaining Softwood Secondary Cell Wall Nanostructure
Rosalie Cresswell, Ray Dupree, Steven P. Brown, Caroline S. Pereira, Munir S. Skaf, Mathias Sorieul, Paul Dupree, and Stefan Hill
Biomacromolecules 2021, 22, 11, 4669–4680 https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.1c00937
Water is an integral part of wood; living wood can be deformed beyond its yield point without breaking whereas dried wood will fracture. Rehydration of dried wood does not restore its properties yet, prior to this work, there was no molecular level picture of water’s role. Rosalie led this paper which uses state-of-the-art multidimensional NMR supported by MD modelling to determine the irreversible molecular changes that occur upon drying. It presents a model of a hydrated cellulose microfibril and the changes occurring during the drying and rehydration. The paper has been enthusiastically received with approaching 1000 article views since publication in late October.
A hot subdwarf–white dwarf super-Chandrasekhar candidate supernova Ia progenitor
Ingrid Pelisoli , P. Neunteufel, S. Geier, T. Kupfer, U. Heber, A. Irrgang, D. Schneider, A. Bastian, J. van Roestel, V. Schaffenroth and B. N. Barlow
Nature Astronomy, 5, 1052–1061 (2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-021-01413-0
Over twenty years ago, Type Ia thermonuclear supernovae were key to the discovery of the acceleration of the Universe, but their precise origin is a mystery. Ingrid led a paper published in Nature Astronomy presenting the discovery of a binary star whose 99-minute orbital period makes it an excellent candidate to host a thermonuclear supernova in the future. Ingrid and collaborators applied a combination of leading observational and theoretical techniques to map the future of this exciting system. With this detection, they constrained the supernova rate due to this particular type of binary, shedding light onto the origin of supernovae.
Many congratulations to Drs Elena Cukanovaite, James Gott and Samuele Ferracin, for their success in the 2021 PhD Thesis Prize competition. Elena won the Winton Prize for Astrophysics, James was awarded the Springer Thesis Prize, while Samuele is the recipient of the Faculty of Science and Department of Physics Thesis prize. Read on for more details about the prizes and their research.
Congratulations to the following members of Physics staff on their promotions:
- David Brown (Senior Research Fellow)
- Aruni Fonseka (Senior Research Fellow)
- Paul Strom (Senior Research Fellow)
- David Armstrong (Associate Professor)
- Anne-Marie Broomhall (Associate Professor)
- Andrew Howes (Associate Professor)
- Elizabeth Stanway (Reader)
All promotions are with effect from 1 August 2021.
Joe Lyman awarded Future Leaders Fellowship
Dr Joseph Lyman of the Astronomy and Astrophysics group is one of four Warwick academics to receive a highly-prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship in the third round of awards.
Joe's project, titled "New frontiers in transient astrophysics: gravitational-wave multi-messenger events and exotic stellar explosions", is devoted to furthering our understanding of the changing night sky. Astrophysical transients, in the form of exploding stars as supernovae, and merging neutron stars as gravitational-wave events, are some of the most energetic events in the Universe and probe physics under conditions far beyond our capabilities on Earth.
As we don't know where or when these events will occur, the fellowship will develop and exploit the Warwick-led Gravitational wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO) project as a discovery machine to find new and exotic transients. It will also create of a rapid network of telescope facilities to follow these GOTO discoveries, making it possible to take detailed observations almost immediately after discovery, and allowing us to open new windows in study of these extreme explosions.
Joe joins Dr Heather Cegla and Dr Benjamin Richards as Future Leaders Fellows in the Department of Physics. See https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/ukri_fellowships_awarded_to_four_university_of_warwick_academics1 for a Warwick press release.
Staff and students from the Physics department will again contribute to Coventry's "Pint of Science" festival this year, to be held from 20-22 May in venues around the city. Departmental representatives include Jessica Marshall, Matthew Hoskin, Sam Seddon, Tishtrya Mehta, and Alun Rees.