Paul Ricker

Paul Ricker(1985)


Penn State, B.S. in Physics with Distinction and with Honors in
Astronomy, Mathematics minor, 1991
University of Chicago, M.S. in Physics, 1993 University of
Chicago, Ph.D. in Physics, 1996

Employer/Job Title

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Assistant Professor of Astronomy


Complete vita at
-Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). 2002
-U. S. Dept. of Energy Defense Programs Early Career Award. 2002
-Gordon Bell Prize. 2000
-NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP) Fellowship, High Performance Computing and Communications Focus.
Ricker, P. M. “A Direct Multigrid Poisson Solver for Oct-Tree Adaptive Meshes.” 2008, ApJS, 176, 293
Ricker, P. M. and Taam, R. E. “The Interaction of Stellar Objects within a Common
Envelope.” 2008, ApJ, 672, L41
Ricker, P. M. and Sarazin, C. L. “Off-Axis Cluster Mergers: Effects of a Strongly Peaked Dark Matter Profile.” 2001, ApJ, 561, 621
Ricker, P. M., Dodelson, S., and Lamb, D. Q. “COSMOS: A Hybrid N-Body/Hydrodynamics Code for Cosmological Problems.” 2000,
ApJ, 536, 122
Ricker, P. M. “Off-Center Collisions between Clusters of Galaxies.” 1998, ApJ, 496, 670
Ricker, P. M. and Meszaros, P. “Starburst and Reflection-Dominated AGN Contributions to the Cosmic X-Ray Background.” 1993,
ApJ, 418, 49


I attended PGSS in 1985 after completing my sophomore year at Peters Township High School in McMurray, PA. Before attending PGSS, I generally did well in my science and math classes and was considering a career as a computer programmer. PGSS exposed me to advanced classes in special relativity, nuclear physics, discrete mathematics, artificial intelligence, organic chemistry, and molecular biology. It was the first time that I had been placed in such a challenging environment together with students like me from across the state. My coursework, my interactions with peers and professors, and my research project ignited a real desire within me to seek more suchchallenges. It also opened my eyes for the first time to the fact that I could realistically consider a career as a scientist and that I could succeed at such a career. In the fall after PGSS, my family moved to Mt. Lebanon, PA, and with my new confidence and enthusiasm I pushed hard to get into advanced placement classes in every subject I could. I graduated from Mt. Lebanon in 1987 with scores of 5 on the AP exams in calculus, physics, computer science, and Spanish, and a 4 on the English exam. I credit my PGSS experience with giving me the drive to perform to the best of my ability in all of these areas. That drive has sustained me through a successful career as a research astrophysicist specializing in high-performance computing.