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ASU astrophysicist honored with Simons Fellowship

Frank Timmes
March 09, 2015

The Simons Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing math and science research, will give an Arizona State University astrophysicist the opportunity to spend a year away from classroom and administrative duties to pursue research interests.

This year’s group of Simons Fellows includes ASU’s Francis (Frank) Timmes, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and ASU's director of advanced computing.

Timmes is an astrophysicist interested in supernovae, cosmic chemical evolution, astrobiology, the gamma-ray astronomy and high-performance computing. His Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics award will let him focus on research for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Timmes plans to use his academic year sabbatical to advance his research activities, which include a NASA-funded Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics Networks project aimed at exploring the internal structure and evolutionary histories of supernova progenitors; an NSF-funded Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation project aimed at supporting the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics software instrument; and various projects within the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics – Center for the Evolution of the Elements, an NSF-funded Physics Frontier Center.

“I am very excited about the opportunity provided by the Simons Fellowship, he said. "It will give me the time and flexibility to pursue leading-edge research with colleagues as research projects unfold.”

Timmes plans to visit the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at University of California Santa Barbara, as well as experts in nuclear astrophysics at Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame.

Research leaves from classroom teaching and administrative obligations can provide strong intellectual stimulation and lead to increased creativity and productivity in research. The Simons Fellows program is intended to make leaves more productive by enabling the extension of sabbatical leaves from one academic term to a full academic year.

Simons Fellows are chosen based on research accomplishment in the five years prior to application and the potential scientific impact of the fellowship.

“I feel fortunate because very few organizations fund sabbatical research in theoretical physics,” Timmes said of the award. “I am grateful to the Simons Foundation for their support of our field.”

Timmes is one of only 14 scholars to receive the award for theoretical physics. Timmes accompanies professors from other top universities and colleges in the United States, such as Harvard, Cornell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to name a few. He is ASU’s first Simons Fellow.