June 2017
  • The Graduate School of Northwestern University has selected Fani Dosopoulou to receive the Holt Award. Named in honor of Helen Froelich Holt ’34, ‘38MS, it is a one-time award to help facilitate completion of the dissertation leading to a PhD. The prize is intended to provide monetary support in the student’s final year of writing and defense of the dissertation.
    Read the full article.

    Northwestern Now reported on June 1, 2017 that “One, two and now three historic waves have come from deep space.” The press release continues: “The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made the detection Jan. 4, 2017, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened. Gravitational waves pass through Earth and can be “heard” by the extremely sensitive LIGO detectors. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes merged to form a larger black hole. The long-awaited triumph in September 2015 of the first-ever direct observation of gravitational waves completed Einstein’s vision of a universe in which space and time are interwoven and dynamic.”
    Read the full Northwestern Now article.
    Read more on the CIERA Website.


May 2017
  • Congratulations to undergraduates Rebecca Diesing and Charles “Chase” Kimball, who jointly won the Department of Physics & Astronomy prize for best senior thesis, 2017. This award is given on behalf of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Rebecca and Chase are both astronomy students; Rebecca works with Professor Farhad Yusef-Zadeh and Chase works with Professor Vicky Kalogera.
    Read the full article.

    On May 5, 2017, CIERA Director, Vicky Kalogera was featured in Chicago Woman magazine’s “Women in STEM” column. Kalogera’s interview discussed her involvement with the LIGO team, and their discovery of gravitational waves. The interview also explored Kalogera’s upbringing and long-term interests in science, and what it is like to be a female researcher in a historically male-dominated field.
    Read the full Chicago Woman interview.

    Vicky Kalogera has been honored as the winner of the 2017 Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. This award is given to one faculty member annually by the Northwestern University Provost. Provost Linzer states, “Vicky is a highly prolific and influential scholar in the fields of physics and astronomy. She is a senior member of the international team that detected the first direct evidence of gravitational waves. With these data, her team also made the first direct observation of two black holes colliding.” Continue to the Northwestern News announcement or the Office of the Provost announcement.
    Read the Northwestern News announcement .
    Read the Office of the Provost announcement.


March 2017
  • The tenth issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. This issue focuses on LIGO’s second observation run, “O2”. In “Getting ready for O2: A data analysis perspective”, gravitational-wave astronomers Sarah Caudill and Vivien Raymond discuss preparing to analyze the new data. Vivien is a Northwestern PhD from CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera’s research group. Mike Zevin, a 3rd year doctoral student at Northwestern, penned a feature article, “The Gravity Spy Project: Machine learning and citizen science” highlighting the relationship between professional astronomers and citizen scientists which is making analyzing LIGO data more effective.
    Read the full story.


December 2016
  • In December, several prestigious honors were announced for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the team of scientists and engineers involved in the gravitational-wave discovery announced earlier this year. CIERA’s director, Vicky Kalogera, led the astrophysical interpretation of the discovery for the LIGO collaboration. Over the years, her group pioneered ways of making detection source rate predictions and developed methods for extracting information from gravitational-wave signals from binaries of spinning compact objects.
    Read the full story.

    On December 1st and 2nd, Dave Reitze, the Executive Director of LIGO Laboratory at Caltech, visited Northwestern for a series of group meetings, a tour of the Laboratory for Atomic and Photonic Technology, and to present CIERA’s Fall Interdisciplinary Colloquium on the topic of gravitational waves detected by LIGO. Dr. Reitze, Northwestern alumnus class of 1983, met with LIGO Scientific Collaboration members Vicky Kalogera, Shane Larson, Selim Shahriar and several postdocs and students at Northwestern who contributed to the discovery (some of whom are pictured, left). His talk, titled, “Colliding Black Holes & Convulsions in Space-time: The First Observations of Gravitational Waves by LIGO,” included a description of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and the “powerful and unique probes of the universe” that LIGO captures.
    Read the Office for Research story.


October 2016
  • LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, is the most sensitive and complex gravitational experiment ever created. When researchers look at the information LIGO receives from the Universe, they also confront the instrumental and environmental noise the observatory picks up. Gravity Spy launched this October, and lets the lay public act as citizen scientists to help categorize noise, or glitches, in the massive amounts of data coming from the detectors here on Earth that first heard gravitational waves. The Gravity Spy team is made up of LIGO researchers within CIERA, LIGO researchers at Cal State Fullerton, machine learning researchers at Northwestern University, crowd-sourced science researchers at Syracuse University, and Zooniverse web developers. Gravity Spy is funded by the NSF INSPIRE 1547880 grant.
    Read the full article here.


September 2016
  • CIERA postdoctoral fellow Laura Sampson is among five female scientists honored with the 2016 For Women in Science Fellowship from L'Oréal USA. The program recognizes exemplary female scientists for their contributions in STEM and their commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. As part of the award, Dr. Sampson will receive $60,000 to advance her postdoctoral research. Along with the other recipients, she will visit the White House, the National Academy of Sciences, a New Jersey public school, and L'Oréal Headquarters.

    Read the full announcement from L'Oréal USA.
    Read the Northwestern News announcement.
    Read about Laura's achievement in the ChicagoInno.


July 2016
  • Dr. Kalogera is hosting and mentoring 14 high school and college students from around the country this summer, who are each working on their own independent research projects. The students are also receiving guidance from CIERA’s Postdoctoral Fellow Chris Pankow, Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow Scotty Coughlin, and Graduate Student Mike Zevin.

    Front row (left to right): Jason Yang, Sophie Haight, Andrew Kim, Vicky Kalogera, Yuqi Yun, Ben Silverman, Luke Calian, Sam Imperato

    Back Row (left to right): Chris Pankow, Kevin Ensor, Scotty Coughlin, Max Ordonez, Jacob Schultze, Robert Doane-Soloman, Mike Zevin

    Not shown: Ethan Marx, Ahsan Anjum, William Tong


June 2016
  • The LIGO Collaboration announced the second detection of a new pair of colliding black holes by the LIGO detectors. The second detection occurred Dec. 26, 2015, and is known as the “Boxing Day event.”

    Read on for full coverage.


May 2016
  • Yuri Milner, a Russian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and physicist, is giving $3 million as a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to honor the scientists and engineers involved in the gravitational-wave discovery announced earlier this year. $1 million will be shared equally by the three LIGO founders, Ronald Drever, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss, and the remaining $2 million will be shared equally by the 1,012 contributors.
    Read the Breakthrough Prize announcement.

    A second prestigious honor, the Gruber Foundation's $500,000 Cosmology Prize, will be conferred to the founders and the entire LIGO team for "pursuing a vision to observe the universe in gravitational waves, leading to a first detection that emanated from the collision of two black holes." The priz citation continues, "This remarkable event provided the first glimpse into the strong-gravity regime of Einstein's theory of general relativity that governs the dynamics of black holes, giving direct evidence for their existence, and demonstrating that their nature is consistent with the predictions of general relativity."
    Read the full press release on the Gruber Cosmology Prize.

    During his undergraduate career at Northwestern, Kyle Kremer combined his love of the planets and music into a dual physics and trumpet degree. Now a graduate student in the Physics & Astronomy department, he brought that love to the broader Northwestern community in the Solar System Symphony concert on May 24th.
    Read the full story.

    Emceed by WBEZ’s Nerdette Podcast hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnson, five of Chicago’s Arts and Sciences experts, including Vicky Kalogera, got just five minutes to spark imaginations with “en-lightning” ideas on May 10th. Co-hosted by The Phi Beta Kappa Society & The Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area and held at the Chicago History Museum, over 200 members of the public enjoyed the talks, which were part of PBK’s Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction program.
    View the (En)Lightning Talks.


April 2016
  • Graduate student Michael Zevin interacted with about 30 visiting students in two sessions during Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day 2016 at Norris University Center. He explained how much can be learned about our universe using light, even light invisible to humans, and showcased Northwestern’s historic Dearborn Telescope. The students used spectral tubes and diffraction gratings to explore how light can tell us what makes up galaxies billions of lightyears away. Mike also introduced the concept of spacetime and the recent observation of gravitational waves to the young enthusiasts!

    Representatives from the National Science Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences (NSF MPS) Directorate came to Northwestern April 21st in a site visit organized by Northwestern’s Office for Research. The directorate is visiting a select number of institutions in 2016 to better understand the scientific opportunities, research landscape, and workforces they impact. Graduate student Niharika Sravan was among the 18 students invited to present posters in the Silverman Hall atrium as part of the visit.
    Read the full story on the NSF Site Visit.

    To celebrate and highlight advanced research computing at Northwestern, the third annual Computational Research Day was held on April 19th. Highlights of the day included presentations from Northwestern researchers, guest speakers, the Visualization Challenge sponsored by NVIDIA and a poster session sponsored by CIERA and NICO (Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems). Physics and Astronomy graduate students Niharika Sravan and Mike Zevin presented posters. Mike took home the first prize of $1500 toward the conference of his choice for his poster on Gravity Spy and LIGO.
    Read the full story on Computational Research Day.


February 2016
  • The National Science Foundation and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration have announced that their scientists have successfully, for the first time, directly detected gravitational waves - or ripples in the fabric of spacetime - using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Learn why this discovery is important.

    Through their dedicated research, CIERA faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students contributed to this momentous scientific discovery!

    Go to the full Northwestern News Special Feature.
    Read an interview with Vicky Kalogera from only one year ago with her thoughts about the search for gravitational waves.
    Watch the 5 minute video in which Vicky Kalogera and Shane Larson explain the discovery.
    Read the astrobites post by Mike Zevin. Astrobites is an online journal written by astronomy graduate students.
    Learn more about LIGO, the collaboration of more than 1000 scientists worldwide who joined together in the search for gravitational waves.

November 2015
  • Dr. Vicky Kalogera was elected to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation’s (LSSTC) Executive Board of Directors. In this capacity, Dr. Kalogera will participate in the oversight and administration of the Corporation.

    Learn about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.


October 2015
  • Dr. Vicky Kalogera was awarded the 2016 Hans A. Bethe Prize from the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes outstanding work in theory, experiment or observation in the areas of astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics or closely related fields. It is open to any scientist working in these areas, worldwide, and is presented annually by the APS divisions of astrophysics and nuclear physics. Dr. Kalogera will be honored with the Bethe prize at a recognition ceremony during the April, 2016 meeting of the APS. The Bethe is the only astrophysics prize within the APS. Dr. Kalogera's citation reads, “For key contributions to the study of the electromagnetic and gravitational wave radiation from binary compact objects, including the now-verified prediction that neutron star mergers produce short gamma-ray bursts that will be found in all galaxy types.”

    Go to the Northwestern News story on Dr. Kalogera's honor. Read about Dr. Kalogera’s background in two recent interviews: Northwestern University’s Office for Research Newsletter and STEM Women on Fire web site.

    October 1 – 3, 2015, CIERA hosted the Midwest Relativity Meeting (MRM) with over 100 participants from across North America, including some of the leading experts in the country on the theory of relativity. The annual MRM aims to bring together researchers from across the Midwest and beyond to discuss general relativity and a broad range of topics in gravitational physics (classical and quantum gravity, numerical relativity, relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, gravitational waves, and experimental gravity). View the Scientific Program from the 2015 MRM.


September 2015
  • Despite intermittently cloudy skies, over 1,700 people joined CIERA faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students to watch the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night, September 27th, 2015.  Setting up three telescopes on the top floor of the Segal Visitors Center on the south campus of Evanston, CIERA volunteers welcomed Northwestern students & staff and members of the public to take part in this event. View the Northwestern News eclipse story and the Daily Northwestern eclipse story.

    Niharika Sravan was invited by physics teacher Katie Page to speak at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, IL. Mrs. Page runs the Women in STEM club, which includes a speaker series aimed at inspiring young women to pursue their interests in the science fields.

    Each quarter, Mrs. Page invites a panel of guest speakers to come and talk to Prospect's high school girls about the speakers' educational backgrounds, professions, how they got into their STEM fields, and “what it’s really like.” View the Chicago Tribune story about the Prospect High School Women in STEM Club.


August 2015
  • CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera spoke to nearly 40 Office for Research staff members at NU Knowledge at Noon, a faculty research presentation series. The series is designed to allow staff to learn directly from Northwestern faculty about the exciting research that takes place at our institution. The series also aims to foster connections across Office for Research staff by providing the opportunity for them to meet in person.

    In her talk, "NU Astronomy: Big Data, Telescope Innovation, and the Cosmos," Dr. Kalogera covered a brief history of astronomy, but she focused mainly on the very near future: the importance of big data and the value of two large, related initiatives, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

May 2015
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients
    Funded by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences:
    Jessie Duncan, Anya Kogan, and Ben Sandeen (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera) Funded by the Office of Undergraduate Research:
    Chase Kimball (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera)

    NASA Illinois Space Grant Consortium Recipient
    Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Project Winner:
    Leah Perri (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera)
    Academic Year Grant Winner, Undergraduate scholarship: Leah Perri

April 2015
  • The National Science Foundation has awarded a prestigious Graduate Fellowship to Kyle Kremer; Kyle worked with Professor Vicky Kalogera as an undergraduate student at Northwestern, and will be rejoin CIERA and the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the Fall as a graduate student. Congratulations Kyle!
  • A Northwestern team led by CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera has been awarded a 5-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help train graduate students in the interdisciplinary fields of data analytics and Big Data. The program, entitled "From the Earth and the Universe to the Successful Careers of the Future", was one of only eight proposals funded across the country, out of approximately 240 proposals that were received by the NSF. Professor Kalogera and her team designed a two-year graduate certificate program that includes, for example, the Big Data challenges of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, and the EarthScope seismic observatory project. The program will also give graduate students the chance to improve their communication skills, learn about parallel programming and visualization, and take part in summer internships at national labs and in industry. Over the 5-year duration, the program with provide graduate fellowships for 35 students selected from a wide range of existing PhD programs.

    The NSF highlighted this and other Research Traineeship awards in a press release.
March 2015
  • Two new group members will be joining us in September as postdocs: Laura Sampson and Chris Pankow will both join our LIGO research group. Laura comes from Montana State University is an expert in Bayesian statistics, parameter estimation and model selection for gravitational-wave sources in connection to both interferometric detectors and pulsar-timing arrays. Chris is an expert in a wide range of methods for gravitational-wave signal searches from both burst and binary coalescence events. As Advanced LIGO starts observations this coming Fall we are looking forward to welcoming them both to our group!
February 2015
  • A new paper “On the Formation of Ultraluminous X-ray Sources with Neutron Star Accretors: the Case of M82 X-2” by Tassos Fragos (Geneva Observatory), Tim Linden (U Chicago), Vicky Kalogera (Northwestern), and Panos Sklias (Geneva Observatory) is now accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Vicky with her past students and now collaborators, Tassos and Tim, and Tassos’ student Panos consider the newly discovered ultraluminous X-ray source M82 X-2, which surprised us by revealing a neutron star accretor instead of the typically assumed intermediate-mass black hole. The team found that, as long as mass-transfer from the massive companion is non-conservative, the system is consistent with expectations from population synthesis models of high-mass X-ray binaries.
  • LIGO Generations, a new film documenting the history of gravitational wave astronomy and the dramatic next phase about to unfold with Advanced LIGO, was released just last week. It can be watched online.
    Accompanying the film, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration will host a web AMA ("Ask me anything") session on the reddit r/science channel starting Friday February 13th at 12:00 pm CST.
January 2015
  • We are happy to announce a Public Outreach activity we are launching within CIERA for the duration of 2015. These events are inspired by the 100 year anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Guests will have the opportunity to meet CIERA postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students on the last Friday of every month at Dearborn Observatory on the Northwestern campus. They will discuss their research, share some exciting visualizations, and answer questions.
    You can find further details here. We look forward to seeing you there!
    Read Full story from Northwestern News
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