The United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced that Kevin Croker, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa doctoral candidate in physics and astronomy, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to Estonia. Only three grants were offered to Estonia, where Croker will collaborate with Manuel Hohmann at the University of Tartu from September 2015 until June 2016.
Croker’s research focuses on novel extensions to Einstein’s theory of gravitation: both their construction and experimental consequences. Leveraging UH’s newly established ITS High-Performance Computing Cluster and the University of Tartu’s Monoliit Cluster, Croker will simulate the growth of universes governed by Hohmann’s proposed modifications to Einstein’s theory. These simulations will use a custom version of the code GADGET-2, which Croker developed during an NSF EAPSI Fellowship at the University of Tokyo, another award he earned last year. Comparison of the simulation results with actual observations of the night sky will then be used to estimate the likelihood that Hohmann’s modifications describe our own universe.
Concerning Croker’s selection, Department Chairman Professor Pui Lam said that “this is a very gratifying instance of seeing the development of a promising student, who came to physics from a different discipline and has rapidly achieved expertise in a complex and abstruse field. We are very proud of Kevin and look forward to his accelerated professional growth.” Croker’s thesis advisor, Professor John Learned, professor of physics, adds that he is “very pleased with Kevin’s prestigious award” and that he thinks “this will be the first of much further recognition of Kevin’s talent and blossoming accomplishments.”
Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the U.S. also provide direct and indirect support.
Croker is currently studying Estonian at the University of Pittsburgh’s Baltic Studies Summer Institute (BALSSI), under the full support of a European Union Scholarship and BALSSI.