Benjamin L. Schmitt is a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on experimental cosmology research with the group of Prof. Mark Devlin. Benjamin is primarily concentrated on the development of novel millimeter-wavelength imaging technologies framed through the design and integration of ACTPol, a polarization-sensitive receiver upgrade for the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. Benjamin’s research connected to ACTPol is supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship, as well as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant, which support his active collaborative work with teams at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as well as field operations at the ACT site in northern Chile.
Benjamin previously served as a U.S. Department of State Fulbright Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, where he engaged in plasma diagnostics research via precision measurement of the photoionization of highly charged ions propagated in an electron beam ion trap with modern synchrotron radiation light sources. He also supported the development of x-ray diagnostics systems for the OMEGA laser system at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy inertial confinement fusion research center, and has been a visiting researcher at both Cornell and Columbia Universities in areas spanning accelerator physics and laboratory astrophysics.
Benjamin is a professional member of IEEE, APS, SPIE, AAS, and OSA, and has participated in federal science and technology policy engagement events with members of Congress, the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Executive Office of the President, and the Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology at the United Nations in the United States, as well as CONICYT in Chile. Schmitt has also led a unique program, called The ARTacama Project, which aims to use a critical intersection of the visual fine arts with world class astronomy research facilities to foster bilateral engagement between stakeholders in Chile and the United States, including through direct dialogues with Ambassador of Chile to the U.S., Juan Gabriel Valdes. An accomplished classical vocalist with numerous principal roles with the Eastman Opera Theatre company at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Benjamin earned a Master of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy, as well as a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and Modern German Languages and Cultures from the University of Rochester.
Schmitt will serve as the 2015-16 IEEE-USA U.S. Department of State Fellow where he will act as science and technology policy advisor for energy security and resource management across the European and Eurasian region within the Energy Diplomacy Pillar of the Bureau of Energy Resources at the U.S. Department of State.