Harshil Kamdar

  • Program Year: 4
  • Academic Institution: Harvard University
  • Field of Study: Computational Astrophysics
  • Academic Advisor: Charlie Conroy
  • Practicum(s):
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2018)
  • Degree(s):
    B.S. Astronomy, and B.S. Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2016
  • Personal URL: http://harshilkamdar.github.io

Summary of Research

The project that I have been leading for the past few months, for which I was awarded the Blue Waters fellowship, involves exploiting the relationship between dark matter haloes and galaxies to explore the applicability of machine learning (ML) algorithms to the problem of galaxy formation and evolution. We were successfully able to approximately mimic a full-blown hydrodynamical simulation, which usually takes thousands to millions of CPU hours to run, using ML in the order of mere minutes. These exciting results have resulted in two first-author publication in MNRAS, one first-author submitted manuscript, and various talks and posters at conferences across the country. ML could enable us to quickly create mock galaxy catalogs and help us understand the galaxy-halo connection in a new light.


1. Machine Learning and Comsological Simulations I: Semi-Analytical Models;
Kamdar, H.M., Turk, M.J., Brunner, R.J., MNRAS, 455, 642

2. Machine Learning and Comsological Simulations II: Hydrodynamical Simulations;
Kamdar, H.M., Turk, M.J., Brunner, R.J., MNRAS, 457, 1162

3. A Dynamical Model for Clustered Star Formation in the Disk; Kamdar, Conroy, Ting, Bonaca, Johnson, Cargile, ApJ, 884, 173.

4. Stars that Move Together are Born Together; Kamdar, Conroy, Ting, Bonaca, Smith, Brown, ApJL, 884, L42.


1. University Achievement Scholar (2012 - Present); merit scholarship of $12,000/yr for out-of-state students

2. Liberal Arts and Sciences Edmund James Scholar (2012 - Present); honors program

3. Dean's List (Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015); semester GPA in the top 15 percentile.

4. Harry E. Preble Award for Undergraduate Research (2014, 2015)

5. Finalist for best poster; University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Symposium, Modeling Galaxy Formation and Evolution in Large Cosmological Simulations Using Machine Learning, April 2015, Urbana, IL

6. Blue Waters Fellowship (May 2015 - May 2016): National Center for Supercomputing Applications. One out of 22 students selected from across the nation to get 22,500 node hours on the Blue Waters supercomputer to pursue my research project.

7. Stanley Wyatt Memorial Award -- outstanding undergraduate in Astronomy at University of Illinois.

8. Robert E. Hetrick Senior Thesis Prize -- outstanding undergraduate senior thesis in Physics at University of Illinois.

9. Star Family Prize Finalist for excellence in undergraduate advising and mentoring.