Announcing the 2023 CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics winner

January 16th, 2023

We are pleased to announce that Giulia Cinquegrana has won our CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics 2023.

Giulia is a third-year PhD student in theoretical astrophysics and is planning to visit Europe in August 2023.

Giulia’s research concerns the evolution and chemical contributions of stars with very high initial metal content (here, we refer to any element heavier than helium as a ‘metal’). Her visit will strongly support the pursuit of answers to questions prioritised by the Australian decadal plan for astronomy, including how elements are produced by stars and recycled through galaxies, how galaxies form and evolve across cosmic time, and how stars and planets form.

Whilst hydrogen and helium were created in the big bang, the other elements on the periodic table have been formed since then in stars. The first stars, then, were born of gas composed of solely hydrogen and helium. They produced heavier elements over their lifetime (via nuclear fusion) and returned these heavy products to the universe as they exploded as supernovae. This provided an enriched base of gas and dust for the next generation of stars to form from, the end product of which are ‘metal-rich’ stars (like our sun) that are significantly enriched in heavy elements.

Metal-rich stars populate the bulges of spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, yet remain relatively understudied given their difficulty to model and observe. Giulia’s PhD research is dedicated to understanding how these stars evolve, what kind of chemical contributions they return to the universe and their impact on the evolution of galaxies.

With the scholarship funding, Giulia will have the rare opportunity to be involved in four exceptionally valuable career development and research opportunities:

(1) She will participate in the prestigious MIAPbP ‘Stellar astrophysics in the era of gaia, spectroscopic and asteroseismic surveys,’ workshop held in Garching, Germany. The key focus of the workshop is to address inconsistencies between theoretical results and observation.

(2) She will visit two key collaborators working at the same institute, Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary: Her external supervisor, Dr. Joyce and Dr. Lugaro, who is a long-time collaborator of her primary advisor, A/Professor Karakas, and with whom she has recently initiated a project.

(3) She will work with Dr. Valenti at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Dr. Valenti has extensive experience observing metal-rich populations in the Galactic bulge.

(4) She will serve as the teaching director for the 2023 MESA Summer School–the first ever in Europe–by invitation of the program director. This is an invaluable opportunity to contribute to the greater community. MESA is the only open-source evolution code, it is named in the 2020 Decadal Review of Astronomy. These summer schools serve to support the development of junior researchers.