COSAM News Articles 2022 April COSAM postdoctoral scientist selected for first COSAM Dean’s Research Award and wins 2022 Laboratory Astrophysics Division Dissertation Prize

COSAM postdoctoral scientist selected for first COSAM Dean’s Research Award and wins 2022 Laboratory Astrophysics Division Dissertation Prize

Published: 04/25/2022

By: Maria Gebhardt

“I am extremely proud that COSAM is recognizing our growing community of postdoctoral scientists and Steve is the first recipient of the 2021-2022 Dean’s Research Award for Postdoctoral Scientist,” said Mark Liles, acting associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM. “It is important for our college to highlight the accomplishments of postdocs who make significant contributions to research and serve as mentors to students.”

Steven Bromley received his doctorate degree from Clemson University in May 2020. He then moved to the Plains to be a postdoc in the Department of Physics working with Dennis Bodewits, associate professor.

Within just two years, Bromley is both the recipient of COSAM’s inaugural award recognizing postdoctoral scientists and was selected for the 2022 Dissertation Prize for the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) part of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). 

“It is quite an honor to be the first recipient of this award,” Bromley explained as he discussed his research at the 2021-2022 COSAM Dean’s Research Awards.

His presentation, Laboratory Astrophysics at Auburn University, gave an insight into his theoretical and experimental studies in physics. Bromley passionately explained his work on comets, which are made up of ice and dust, surrounded by a large cloud.

“My research involves building models to explain the light signatures of atoms, such as nickel and iron, around comets,” Bromley said. “Normally, metals are found in the dust, but as the ice turned gaseous as this comet approached the sun, metals were detected and measured. We confirmed these detections by comparing to experimental measurements from my dissertation. However, the source of these metals in comets is still quite puzzling!”

In addition to being honored in COSAM, Bromley is the sixth winner of the prestigious LAD Dissertation Prize. He has been invited to give a lecture during the summer meeting of the AAS in Pasadena, CA. 

“My dissertation was on experimental studies to explain phenomena observed in astrophysics, including particle collisions and light emitted from heavy elements in plasmas,” Bromley said. “It is an incredible opportunity to be able to speak at the large upcoming AAS meeting and share my work with the community at large.”

His career goal is to continue to conduct research and find a research professorship at a national laboratory where he can apply his skills and his passion for astrophysics.

“As a postdoc, you have an incredible opportunity to make an impact on ways of thinking within the field,” he said. “My advice to graduate students and postdocs is to expand your skillset and apply your unique perspective to other interesting problems.”

Learn more about his dissertation and research or visit the Comet Research Group website.

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