College of Sciences Professor Appointed to Top Role in Search for Gravitational Waves

Science and Technology

College of Sciences Professor Appointed to Top Role in Search for Gravitational Waves

Laura Cadonati will serve as LIGO’s Deputy Spokesperson

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Laura Cadonati is a professor in the School of Physics and one of the world’s top experts studying gravitational waves.

Now that scientists have observed and confirmed the existence of gravitational waves, the community is preparing for what it calls a “new dawn” of exploration. This next step will enable a better understanding of the universe and create the directions for the development of future generations of instruments.

To help guide them into this new chapter of discovery, members of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) have appointed Georgia Tech Professor Laura Cadonati as their first-ever deputy spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). Together with the spokesperson, she will speak on behalf of LIGO when new detections are announced and oversee the management of a number of divisions, including data analysis and astrophysics.

“I am proud and honored to be a member of the LSC. We’ve already done something great by detecting two black hole collisions from billions of years ago,” said Cadonati, a professor in the the College of Sciences and School of Physics. “I’m eager to work with the astronomy and astrophysics community to create this new dawn of gravitational wave astrophysics that will continue to decode the mysteries of the universe.”

Cadonati will collaborate closely with MIT’s David Shoemaker, LIGO’s newly elected spokesperson, as they restructure the 1,000-member organization.

“Dr. Cadonati has extensive expertise in data analysis, as well as experience in creating and leading a National Science Foundation-supported LIGO group as a single investigator,” said Shoemaker, a senior research scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “She covers both the research and the leadership sides of the house, which are integral for our continued success in cultivating the scientific advances from the LSC.”

Cadonati previously served as chair of the LIGO Data Analysis Council. She coordinated and guided the activities of hundreds of scientists around the world who work together to analyze the data coming out of the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington.

LIGO detected the first-ever gravitational wave in September of 2015, the result of two black holes crashing into each other nearly 1.5 billion years ago. The waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime, were originally predicted in 1915 by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity. LIGO captured a second wave in December of 2015, again from colliding back…

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