Dr. Danielle Speller wins Packard Fellowship to research astrophysics

Astronomer Danielle Speller  a has been awarded a 2022 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, a prestigious early-career award for scientists that provides “flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields of study.” 

More than 80% of the mass in our universe appears to be “dark matter” that’s invisible to us. Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Danielle Speller is working to better understand these mysteries about the nature of matter and mass. 

Currently, she’s looking for a class of dark matter candidates known as axions in hopes of studying how they behave. She’s also looking for a rare nuclear process called neutrinoless double-beta decay. 

Each step Speller takes toward detecting evidence of either of these could reveal new pieces in the physics puzzle. “Each clue gives us a better idea of the most promising places to look for the next one,” she says. 

“Professor Speller’s research has the potential to bring our understanding of dark matter forward by leaps and bounds,” said Christopher S. Celenza, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. “The Packard Fellowship could not be more appropriate or welcome for someone so poised to bring new discoveries to light.” 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity that this presents for us to explore new avenues of detection,” Speller says. “I look forward to seeing what we can uncover.” 


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