Carnegie Mellon University

Rachel Mandelbaum

Catalyst Fellows at CMU would be hosted by the McWilliams Center, which joins research efforts in astrophysics, particle physics, computer science, statistics, and other disciplines to unravel the mysteries of the universe.  Theoretical and observational studies within the Center cover a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, including galaxy and structure formation, black holes, gravitational waves, stellar evolution, transients, gravitational lensing, dynamical detection of dark matter and effective field theory in Cosmology.  Faculty at CMU are already actively engaged in preparation for LSST through deep engagement with the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) and Informatics and Statistics Science Collaboration (ISSC), and are starting to get involved in other areas.  In addition to the interdisciplinary research carried out within the McWilliams Center, which spans multiple departments, CMU Physics is also the host of the NSF AI Planning Institute for Data-Driven Discovery in Physics

CMU is one of two lead institutions for the LINCC Frameworks initiative, which aims to deliver to the broad LSST scientific community the tools that work at the interface of algorithmic developments and astrophysics, creating robust, scalable analysis frameworks that can deliver new discoveries from massive data streams. As a LINCC member institution, CMU offers Catalyst Fellows four years of postdoctoral funding (one more than Catalyst Fellows at non-LINCC institutions).  Catalyst Fellows at CMU would have the opportunity for sustained, deep engagement with the LINCC Frameworks research scientists and software engineers to collaborate on developing the software that enables the Fellows to become scientific leaders in LSST.

Like other postdoctoral researchers in the McWilliams Center, Catalyst Fellows at CMU will have access to the Vera computing cluster and other resources at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, which provides high-performance computing resources on a variety of scales and works closely with our scientists.  The Center has a regular seminar series, arxiv paper discussions, and other activities, which Fellows may participate in and/or help organize, and Fellows are welcome to join the research group meetings of any faculty member.  The Department of Physics (which hosts the Center) has active efforts in outreach and in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, from which postdoctoral fellows benefit and in which they are encouraged to engage.  Postdoctoral Fellows at CMU are able to be the PIs of grants, and arrangements can be made to permit them to teach if they express interest in doing so. They are eligible to apply for the McWilliams Center Seed Grant Program.  Finally, members of the Center are engaged in other surveys such as DES, HSC, DESI, and LISA, which may provide collaboration opportunities for Catalyst Fellows.  The supportive environment and varied career development opportunities offered here have resulted in strong career trajectories for former postdoctoral fellows at CMU.

Postdoctoral Fellows will receive standard university onboarding from CMU HR, and the McWilliams Center has an onboarding guide for all new members linked from its website.  We will ensure that any Catalyst Fellow who comes to CMU has a faculty mentor within the McWilliams Center who they can consult with further questions.

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