On 28 November, Job Feldbrugge, Master’s student at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, will be presented with the first De Zeeuw-Van Dishoeck Graduate Award by the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMV). The award is for his Master’s thesis Statistics of Caustics in Large-Scale Structure Formation, with which he graduated cum laude in Astronomy, Mathematics and Physics. He previously graduated cum laude in three Bachelor’s degrees in the same subjects.
For his Master’s project, Feldbrugge conducted detailed research on the first structures to form in the Universe. The project concentrated on the way in which matter in the Universe groups together in a noticeably web-like pattern of slender filaments and flattened planes. Massive, tight clusters of solar systems are located along the filaments of this cosmic web.
Feldbrugge developed a mathematical description of how the cosmic web originated. Previously, this was done with simulations based on the calculations of powerful computers, but Feldbrugge combined numerous existing theories on the origins of the cosmic web in a complex formula which not only describes what happened, but also how it happened. Small changes in the formula lead to different outcomes. By comparing these outcomes with observations of the cosmic web, it is possible to discover more about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. It is this analytical approach that makes Feldbrugge’s thesis so exceptional.
Job Feldbrugge is now following a special programme of study in applied mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He is pleased with the recognition for his thesis and would like to do a PhD in astronomy or theoretical physics.
The jury considers the thesis to be a good point of departure for potentially significant PhD research, and greatly admires the thorough explanation of the theories behind it. According to jury member Michiel van der Klis of the University of Amsterdam, ‘What particularly impressed us was the way in which Feldbrugge mastered various advanced techniques from astronomy, physics and mathematics and used them innovatively to better describe the origins of the large-scale structures of the Universe. There is still more work to be done and his thesis opens up possibilities for important developments in cosmology. The KHMW’s graduate awards recognize ‘exceptional study results’ – graduating cum laude in three simultaneous Master’s degrees more than satisfies this requirement!’
Veldbrugge conducted the research for his thesis under the supervision of Prof. Rien van de Weijgaert (Cosmic Structure Formation, Kapteyn Institute), Dr Diedrik Roest (Centre for Theoretical Physics) and Prof. Arnout van Enter (Johann Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science).
This first De Zeeuw-Van Dishoeck Award for talented young astronomers will be presented on 28 November by Tim de Zeeuw and Ewine van Dishoeck, professors in astronomy at Leiden. They set up a fund earlier this year with the goal of stimulating young talent in astronomy. The De Zeeuw-Van Dishoeck Graduate Award in Astronomy will henceforth be awarded annually for a Master’s thesis in astronomy written at a Dutch university. The award consists of a certificate and € 3,000 prize money provided by the fund.
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