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Northwestern University

CIERA Expands Into New Space

The rapidly growing astrophysics group celebrates its move into tech

The astrophysics group at Northwestern has been growing rapidly — bringing top postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to Northwestern, drawing visitors from across the country, and pioneering innovative research and education programs on campus and throughout Chicago. 

This activity is driven in large part by the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, otherwise known as CIERA. Founded in 2010, CIERA’s goal is to establish Northwestern among the leading institutions in astronomy research.

The core of CIERA — its astronomy group — was originally housed in Dearborn Observatory, a natural home for astronomers studying black holes, binary star systems and clusters of galaxies. But as CIERA expanded its research and attracted an increasing number of post-doctoral fellows, the group began to outgrow its space.

On March 5, the group celebrated its move to a new home in the Technological Institute. More than 70 people from across the University attended the open house.

“As much as we loved the charm, quirkiness, and warmth of Dearborn Observatory, the last couple of years the observatory has bursting at the seams,” observed Vicky Kalogera, the Erastus O. Haven Professor of Physics & Astronomy and director of CIERA.

After years of preparation, new space was created for CIERA on the second floor of the F Wing of the Technological Institute. The group completed the move to its new home in October.

Kalogera noted that the new quarters will improve the cohesiveness and interaction within the group.

“Almost everyone in the astronomy group is now on one floor,” Kalogera said. “Impromptu meetings, gatherings and discussions of new projects happen daily, and even more significant, we are a few steps away from our interdisciplinary collaborators in Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences, and also very close to (the departments of) Engineering Science and Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. 

“The proximity and availability of interaction spaces is already affecting how we discuss things, brainstorm, and work together when opportunities arise.”

With CIERA’s new offices, meeting rooms, and more accessible location, the astronomy group is even better placed to achieve its goal of becoming a prominent center of astrophysics research with strong, unique interdisciplinary ties.

Learn more: CIERA Celebrates its Move to the Tech Institute with Ribbon Cutting & Open House


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