Eva Laplace (final year PhD student at University of Amsterdam ) has been awarded the KNMW/ET outreach award for her software project TULIPS that allows to visualize computer simulations of the lives of stars. She is an astrophysicist at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy where she is working on her PhD thesis investigating the lives and deaths of massive binary stars.
Being frustrated with the many unintuitive and cluttered diagrams that are often used in scientific papers, she started to design her own visualizations. What started as a way for her to better analyze the results of her computer simulations of the complexities of the deep interiors of stars that are at the brink of their final explosions, quickly gave her impact when showing these to colleagues at international conferences. Being passionate about teaching and outreach, she realized quickly how her diagrams could be animated and also help students develop a better understanding of how stars work and make her results accessible to the general public.
Her software package TULIPS (with the ingenious acronym that stands for Tools for Understanding the Lives and Interior Physics of Stars) has already been used for teaching at the University of Amsterdam and Harvard University. The award consists of a personal prize and a grant to help her develop her project further. The jury praised her efforts:
” TULIPS tackles the educational challenge of using real research tools in the classroom by providing a research-level visualisation tool that makes stellar evolution theory accessible. (…) The jury also commends the importance that this project gives to diversity and gender equity in astronomy research. (…) Today’s individuals must learn to work and think with data at an early age, so they are ready for the data-driven society in which we all live. TULIPS contributes to this challenge.From the Jury report of the KNMW/ET award
Eva Laplace is planning to graduate in the fall of 2021 and will continue her research (and work on TULIPS) as a postdoctoral fellow.