Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics welcomes Brinson Prize Fellow Daniel Gilman

September 8, 2023

Daniel Gilman, 2023 Brinson Prize Fellow, The Brinson Foundation, Space Telescope Science Institute

Congratulations to Daniel Gilman, who has been named a Brinson Prize Fellow at the University of Chicago in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. Established in 2021, the Brinson Prize Fellowship Program supports ambitious research in astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology, with a focus on projects that complement and capitalize on the latest space science.

Daniel Gilman strives to understand the nature of dark matter, an enigmatic substance of unknown origin and particle properties. The force of gravity mediates the only known connection between dark matter and the small fraction of the Universe we can observe and interact with. In his research, Gilman uses the gravitational connection between light and dark matter through an effect called gravitational lensing in which light is deflected by gravitational fields. In a particular case referred to as strong lensing, a foreground galaxy and the dark matter surrounding it bend light from a distant background source in such a way that the source becomes highly magnified and multiply imaged.

As a Ph.D. student at UCLA, Gilman led the development of an analysis framework to test theories of dark matter by simulating a particular kind of strong lens system referred to as a quadruply-imaged quasar. As a postdoc at the University of Toronto, he and his collaborators expanded this analysis pipeline to simulate how strong lenses would appear in a variety of dark matter theories with unique particle physics predictions.

As a Brinson Prize Fellow at the University of Chicago, Gilman plans to refine the analysis techniques he developed to incorporate additional information from spectacular, highly-magnified lensed arcs that often encircle the main deflector in a strong lens system. Combining the new analysis techniques with forthcoming data from the James Webb Space Telescope, Gilman will perform stringent tests of the concordance cosmological model of cold dark matter and explore alternative hypotheses for the nature of dark matter that, if confirmed, would overthrow cold dark matter and require new physics.

The Brinson Prize Fellowship Program, a collaboration between The Brinson Foundation and the Space Telescope Science Institute, offers fellows up to three years of support for research, which may also be used to support unique professional development opportunities, such as science communication training.

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