School of Humanities and Sciences
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Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics and of Physics
BioWhat were the first objects that formed in the Universe? Prof. Abel's group explores the first billion years of cosmic history using ab initio supercomputer calculations. He has shown from first principles that the very first luminous objects are very massive stars and has developed novel numerical algorithms using adaptive-mesh-refinement simulations that capture over 14 orders of magnitude in length and time scales. He currently continues his work on the first stars and first galaxies and their role in chemical enrichment and cosmological reionization. His group studies any of the first objects to form in the universe: first stars, first supernovae, first HII regions, first magnetic fields, first heavy elements, and so on. Most recently he is pioneering novel numerical algorithms to study collisionless fluids such as dark matter which makes up most of the mass in the Universe as well as astrophysical and terrestrial plasmas. He was the director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and Division Director at SLAC 2013-2018.
Professor of Physics and of Particle Physics and Astrophysics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsObservational astrophysics and cosmology; galaxies, galaxy clusters, dark matter and dark energy; applications of statistical methods; X-ray astronomy; X-ray detector development; optical astronomy; mm-wave astronomy; radio astronomy; gravitational lensing.
David Mulvane Ehrsam and Edward Curtis Franklin Professor in Chemistry, Emeritus
BioProfessor Emeritus Hans C. Andersen applies statistical mechanics to develop theoretical understanding of the structure and dynamics of liquids and new computer simulation methods to aid in these studies.
He was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate, then physical chemistry as a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. 1962, Ph.D. 1966). At MIT he first learned about using a combination of mathematical techniques and the ideas of statistical mechanics to investigate problems of chemical and physical interest. This has been the focus of his research ever since. He joined the Stanford Department of Chemistry as Assistant Professor in 1968, and became Professor of Chemistry in 1980. He was named David Mulvane Ehrsam and Edward Curtis Franklin Professor in Chemistry in 1994. Professor Andersen served as department chairman from 2002 through 2005. Among many honors, his work has been recognized in the Theoretical Chemistry Award and Hildebrand Award in Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry of Liquids from the American Chemical Society, as well as the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching and Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford. He has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Professor Andersen’s research program has used both traditional statistical mechanical theory and molecular dynamics computer simulation. Early in his career, he was one of the developers of what has come to be known as the Weeks-Chandler-Andersen theory of liquids, which is a way of understanding the structure, thermodynamics, and dynamics of simple dense liquids. Later, he developed several new simulation techniques – now in common use – for exploring the behavior of liquids, such as simulation of a system under constant pressure and/or temperature. He used computer simulations of normal and supercooled liquids to study the temperature dependence of molecular motion in liquids, crystallization in supercooled liquids, and the structure of amorphous solids.
Professor Andersen also developed and analyzed a class of simple lattice models, called facilitated kinetic Ising models, which were then widely used by others to provide insight into the dynamics of real liquids. He simulated simple models of rigid rod polymers to understand the dynamics of this type of material. More recently, in collaboration with Professor Greg Voth of the University of Chicago, he has applied statistical mechanical ideas to the development of coarse grained models of liquids and biomolecules. Such models can be used to simulate molecular systems on long time scales. He has also used mode coupling theory to describe and interpret experiments on rotational relaxation in supercooled liquids and nematogens, in collaboration with Professor Michael Fayer of the Stanford Chemistry Department.