Meet the URCA Faculty

The URCA faculty listed below mentor URCA students in their independent research projects, as well as providing instruction throughout the summer program. In addition, URCA students may work with other NC State Physics faculty on computational projects. URCA students also interact closely with graduate students and post-docs in the NC State Astrophysics group.

John Blondin  •  Email:

Prof. Blondin's research focusses on the use of computational hydrodynamics to study astrophysical objects on the stellar scale. Recent research ranges from idealized problems such as Hoyle-Lyttleton accretion and isothermal shock instabilities to detailed studies of specific astronomical objects including SN 1987A, Kepler's SNR, and Her X-1. Undergraduate work in Blondin's group lead to the discovery of the Spherical Accretion Shock Instability (SASI) and it's role in spinning up the proto-neutron star at the center of a supernova explosion.

Kazik Borkowski  •  Email:

Prof. Borkowski's research

Carla Frohlich  •  Email:

Prof. Frohlich's research covers a range of topics including astrophysical nuclear reactions, the stellar evolution of massive stars, the composition of core collapse supernova ejecta, radioactive abundances of stellar debris in protosolar nebula, and nucleosynthesis processes such as rapid neutron capture (r-process) and antineutrino-proton absorption (neutrino-p- process). She is also interested in computational simulations of supernova explosions and the roles of nuclear structure, plasma dynamics, and neutrino cross sections and transport. Other research interests include galactic chemical evolution and abundances in metal-poor stars.

Jim Kneller  •  Email:

Prof. Kneller's research focuses upon neutrino astrophysics and nucleosynthesis at different epochs in the history of the universe from the Big Bang through to the present day. In recent years he has paid particular attention to the evolving flavor composition of neutrinos as they propagate through supernovae and how various mechanisms that drive that evolution manifest themselves in the signal we expect to observe when we next detect the burst from a galactic supernova. From this signal he hopes to tease out the unknown properties of the neutrino such as the ordering of the neutrino masses, the size of the last mixing angle and the CP phase. Other interests include Big Bang nucleosynthesis, cosmic ray spallation and cosmic and galactic chemical evolution.

Davide Lazzati  •  Email:

Prof. Lazzati's research focuses on the physics of relativistic jets from the collapse of massive stars and on the process of dust formation. State of the art multi-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations are used to study the birth and evolution of relativistic outflows leading to stellar explosions and gamma-ray bursts, while Monte Carlo techniques are employed to investigate the balance of absorption and desorption effects leading to the condensation of nano-scale solids from a gaseous mixture. Undergraduate work in Dr. Lazzati's group led to a possible explanation for the presence of X-ray flares in gamma-ray burst afterglows and to the understanding of the role of thermal fluctuations in the condensation of carbonaceous dust particles.

Gail McLaughlin  •  Email:

Prof. McLaughlin studies the way in which nuclear reactions and subatomic particles affect astrophysical objects and vice-versa. She is particularly interested in supernovae, which are the end states of massive stars, and gamma ray bursts, which still have an unknown origin. For example, she studies how detecting neutrinos from supernovae could tell us both about the conditions in supernovae and also about fundamental properties of neutrinos. She is also interested in how and where elements are formed.

Stephen Reynolds  •  Email:

Prof. Reynolds studies high-energy processes in supernova remnants, active galaxies, and other locales, in particular the acceleration of particles in strong shock waves. Synchrotron X-ray emission from shell supernova remnants, originally proposed in 1981, has now been amply confirmed and has become an important tool for the study of shock acceleration. Synchrotron X-ray emission is often mixed with thermal X-ray emission from gas shocked to temperatures of 10 MK and above, and Reynolds has performed observations with various X-ray satellites to study both thermal and nonthermal processes. Observations with the Chandra X-ray Observatory have led to the firm identification of the type of Kepler's supernova of 1604 as a thermonuclear (Type Ia) supernova, and to the discovery of the youngest supernova remnant in the Galaxy, G1.9+0.3, only about 100 years old as observed at Earth.