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Best Early Career Researcher in New Technologies

Justin Read

Justin Read obtained his PhD in theoretical astrophysics from Cambridge University, UK, in 2003. After a two-year postdoctoral research position, also in Cambridge, he moved to the University of Zürich to join the Institute for Theoretical Physics. In 2009, he joined the University of Leicester as a lecturer in theoretical astrophysics, and in October 2010 he was awarded an assistant professorship at ETH Zürich. Starting 2013 he took up a full Chair at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.

The MERAC Prize is awarded for his major achievements in the area of computational astrophysics. He has been able to improve substantially one of the two major computational methods adopted to model hydrodynamics in astrophysics, namely smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH). Since numerical simulations have become an essential part of astrophysics and cosmology over the past decade, often driving the interpretation of astronomical data, the impact of his work in the field is of primary importance, and will be even more so in the future. The method developed by Justin Read, called SPH-S, overcomes two related long-standing problems of standard SPH, namely its inability to resolve mixing in fluids and capture instabilities at fluid interfaces.

The work has been conducted at the University of Zürich and ETH Zürich, as well as in Leicester and Heidelberg.