David Radice, assistant professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics, has been selected to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Early Career Research Program in support of his work studying extreme astrophysical events, such as the collision of neutron stars—the extremely dense remnants of collapsed stars. Radice is one of only seventy-six scientists across the nation to receive this award, which will support his research for five years.
The Early Career Research Program, now in its eleventh year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The DOE award is available to untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professors at U.S. academic institutions and researchers at DOE national laboratories who received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years.
"The Department of Energy is proud to support funding that will sustain America's scientific workforce, and create opportunities for our researchers to remain competitive on the world stage," said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. "By bolstering our commitment to the scientific community, we invest in our nation's next generation of innovators."
Radice’s work supported by this award focuses on improving the simulations used to bridge astronomical observations with laboratory experiments. When neutron stars collide, they emit gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of space-time—and electromagnetic radiation that can help us to better understand their internal structure and composition. Some of the heaviest elements are formed during these events. Radice is developing a new simulation infrastructure able to leverage next-generation supercomputer hardware, enabling calculations at unprecedented resolutions and extending over long timescales. He aims to develop the theoretical foundations needed to address some of the most pressing questions in nuclear astrophysics, such as the nature of matter inside neutron stars and the astrophysical production site of their heavy elements.
Radice’s academic achievements have been honored with a National Science Foundation Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment grant each year from 2015 to 2020, a Department of Energy National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center grant in 2019 and 2020, a Giulio Rampa Thesis Prize at the University of Pavia in 2014, and a Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology in 2013.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Radice was an associate research scholar at Princeton University and at the Institute for Advanced Study from 2016 to 2019 and a Walter Burke Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics and Relativity at the California Institute of Technology from 2013 to 2016. He earned a doctoral degree in gravitational wave astronomy at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Germany, in 2013 and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematical engineering at Politecnico di Milanoin Italy in 2009 and 2006, respectively.