UC-HiPACC—Five Year Report: 2010–2014/5


This five-year report summarizes UC-HiPACC’s principal programs, activities, and achievements from January 2010 through December 2014. Although funding was not renewed, an extension of time for use of unspent funds allows it to continue some activities into 2015, and its website is now being maintained by the University of California Observatories (UCO).

Download: PDF (Medium Resolution) | PDF (Low Resolution)

In its five years, UC-HiPACC created and funded two major, important, and original activities. One, in education, was an annual advanced International Summer School on AstroComputing (ISSAC) for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, each focusing on a special topic in computational astronomy; the schools attracted some 200 of the best young astrophysicists from the UC system, the United States generally, and leading foreign centers. The other major activity, in research, is the international Assembling Galaxies of Resolved Anatomy (AGORA) project to ensure reproducibility among the leading high-resolution galaxy simulation codes (computer programs), and to help improve the codes so that simulated galaxies look and act increasingly like real observed galaxies.

Each year, UC-HiPACC sponsored two funding cycles for small grants in support of computational astrophysics research that involved collaborations among two or more UC campuses and/or the affiliated DOE labs. In all 10 funding cycles from early 2010 through 2014, 42 small grants totaling about $163,000 were awarded to researchers at all eight UC campuses with astronomy faculty and all three DOE labs. Each year, UC-HiPACC also sponsored or co-sponsored one or two special topical conferences and cosponsored the annual Santa Cruz Galaxy Workshop. It also created a 3D Astronomical Visualization Laboratory (nicknamed the 3D VizLab) and sponsored workshops for development of software and techniques for astrophysical computation and visualizations. Over its five years, UC-HiPACC attracted some $2 million in external funding and equipment to support these activities.

For outreach and returning value to taxpayers, UC-HiPACC provided content from cosmological simulations to three major planetariums: Hayden (New York City), Adler (Chicago), and Morrison (San Francisco). In 2012, UC-HiPACC inaugurated the AstroShorts, free approximately monthly one-page features on UC research in computational astronomy designed to be reprinted in newsletters of astronomical societies. Also in 2012, UC-HiPACC sponsored the first journalism boot camp to be held anywhere on computational astronomy; at least 10 features and shows resulting from subjects introduced in the boot camp were published in print, radio, or online. Meantime, the UC-HiPACC director and the senior writer wrote or coauthored half a dozen feature articles published in major national magazines for the general public. UC-HiPACC’s website, designed to be appealing to students and educators, archives videos and slides of more than 650 presentations at all of UC-HiPACC’s summer schools, conferences, and workshops, plus all 21 one-page AstroShorts.