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Jasper Solt  (he/him or they/them) - Undergraduate 2021

Summer Research Advisor: Prof. Jonathan Pober

Can you share about the research you worked on this summer?

Radio astronomy is a powerful tool for observing the universe at the Epoch of Reionization (EoR), a period in the formation of the universe when the radiation from early galaxies began to ionize neutral hydrogen that had until then dominated space. This summer I helped to optimize and test a machine learning algorithm that predicts cosmological values based on data from semi-numerical simulations of the EoR. We trained an algorithm to predict on three different parameters of the simulated data-- the duration of the EoR, the redshift of 50% reionization (midpoint), and the average redshift of reionization. We determined that we could recover the average redshift and redshift midpoint to within +/-3% and the duration to within +/-10% of the true value from the simulations. This research is a precursor to using machine learning algorithms on data from the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), a radio telescope array which will, once completed, collect data of unprecedented volume and quality from the EoR. Future work includes testing this algorithm on several different semi-numerical simulation models to see if the predictions agree across all models.

What was a fun experience you had this summer while at Brown?

I got to attend my first ever scientific conference for the Murchison Widefield Array, and had a fascinating experience! I also really enjoyed the ongoing summer physics events, and how empty all the coffee shops were when classes aren't in session.