Astrophysicist Blakesley Burkhart Named a 2020 Packard Fellow

Blakesley Burkhart, whose research investigates the role of turbulence in astrophysical environments, has been awarded a 2020 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Burkhart is an associate research scientist at the Flatiron Institute‘s Center for Computational Astrophysics and an assistant professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

The fellowship supports the “blue-sky thinking” of innovative early-career researchers whose work leads to discoveries that improve people’s lives and enhance our understanding of the universe. Past fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals and Breakthrough Prizes. Each of this year’s 20 fellows receives $875,000 over five years to pursue their research.

“In a year when we are confronted by the devastating impacts of a global pandemic, racial injustice, and climate change, these 20 scientists and engineers offer us a ray of hope for the future,” said Frances Arnold, chair of the Packard fellowship’s advisory panel, in a statement. “Through their research, creativity, and mentorship to their students and labs, these young leaders will help equip us all to better understand and address the problems we face.”

Burkhart is a leader in the study of magnetic turbulence across all scales of the universe. Her areas of focus include solar winds, the gases that fill the space between stars and the turbulent nature of nearby galaxies. In her work, she employs innovative techniques to compare observational data with numerical simulations, guided by analytic theory.

Burkhart joined the Flatiron Institute in August 2018. She received her Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was an Einstein Fellow and a joint ITC/SMA Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the Institute for Theory and Computation. In 2019, she received the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy, which recognizes outstanding research by postdoctoral female researchers.

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