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November 2014
August 2014
  • The fifth issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. This issue celebrates the major milestone of the first full lock being achieved. It also contains articles about the Transmission Monitor Suspension Telescope, what life is like at the Louisiana LIGO site, and an interview with Kai Staats, the creator of the documentary “LIGO: A passion for understanding.” Former Northwestern postdoctoral fellow Diego Fazi and others talk about their careers and what they have done after working with LIGO in the article “Life after LIGO”. There is also a feature on former CIERA graduate student Ben Farr’s thesis defense. Past issues of LIGO magazine can be found online.
July 2014
  • Prof. Vicky Kalogera, was elected as the astrophysics trustee, among only nine trustees, of the NSF-funded Aspen Center for Physics on July 9. The ACP is a center for physicists that offers long-term workshops, conferences, and research opportunities for those invited to attend. ACP Trustees provide overall scientific, financial, and administrative guidance; typically, only one or at most two astrophysics positions open up every decade. Congratulations, Vicky!
June 2014
  • CIERA is pleased to host a group of talented student researchers this summer. Among these students, nine have been awarded funding from Weinberg College and NASA’s Illinois Space Grant Consortium. The two students from Vicky Kalogera's graoup are listed below, with their projects: 
    Leah Perri "Characterizing Astrophysical Parameter Estimation Capabilities of LIGO"
    Ben Sandeen “Gravitational Waves and Black Hole/Neutron Star Binary Systems”
  • A recent paper co-authored by Ben Farr (Graduate Student), Will Farr (former Postdoctoral Fellow) and Ilya Mandel (former member of Vicky Kalogera's research group) received a positive review on Astrobites. The paper that was reviewed is entitled “The First Two Years of Electromagnetic Follow-Up with Advanced LIGO and Virgo"; the review can be found here.
May 2014
  • Scotty Coughlin, an undergraduate student who has been working in Vicky Kalogera’s LIGO group, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Starting in September 2014, the award will allow Coughlin to pursue LIGO-related at Cardiff University in Wales. There he will work with Professor Patrick Sutto. It is estimated that this year the Fulbright U.S. Student Program will have awarded scholarships to 48 of the 938 students who applied to study in the United Kingdom. At Cardiff, Scotty will be pursuing a Masters of Philosophy in Gravitational Waves Physics. He will develop a dedicated low latency, i.e. quick turnaround, supernova detection pipeline, to catch the next Galactic core-collapse supernova and determine the explosion mechanism.
  • CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera was featured in a Weinberg Magazine article entitled “Staying in Stem - Encouraging Women to Persist in Math and Science”. The article interviews female Northwestern faculty members about their experience as women pursuing careers in male-dominated STEM fields. Each faculty member interviewed cites examples of the lack of female role models in their field. Kalogera specifically mentions that she never had a female physics professor. Though studies have shown that women are no less capable than men in STEM fields, young girls are still getting the mistaken message that boys are better at math and science. In addition, girls are generally not raised to stand up for themselves or their work; this combative skill is essential in the scientific world: researchers are frequently called upon the defend their work and must compete for top positions. Kalogera also mentions that the lack of balance can come from the female scientists themselves when it comes to seeking a position: she cites the example of women not applying for a postdoc position or waiting until her husband has a position and then applying at his institution. Also, culturally, it can be more comfortable for a woman to stay at home and raise a family for a few years while their partner works.
    Kalogera points out that she does not think the discrepancy or discrimination of women in STEM fields is intentional. She says that “there’s a long history of discrimination that, up until rather recently, was accepted and considered normal. It’s hard to get rid of that over one or two generations.” In the full article Kalogera and her colleagues stress the need for women to continue to pursue careers in STEM fields. Kalogera states, “we can’t change the effects of this (gender disparity in STEM) without making people aware of the magnitude of the problem.” 
    Read Full Article
  • Congratulations to Ben Farr of successfully defending his thesis on Monday May 4th. Ben was a Graduate student withVicky Kalogera’s group and his thesis was entitled “Extracting Astrophysical Information from the Gravitational Waves of Compact Binary Mergers and Their Electromagnetic Counterparts.” It focused on the development and validation of data analysis tools that will be used to characterize compact binary mergers from the gravitational waves they emit. These tools will be used to analyze the data coming from the newly upgraded LIGO and Virgo ground-based gravitational wave detectors coming online starting next year.
April 2014
  • You can now get an inside look at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) team and instrument with the, documentary, "LIGO -- A Passion for Understanding", released April 15th at space.com.  Watch the documentary to learn more about the instrument which uses two and a half mile-long laser beams to detect cataclysmic cosmic events which occurred trillions of miles from Earth. You will also learn about the LIGO Scientific Collaboration: a group of almost a thousand scientists from all across the globe seeking to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves.  As a part of that team, CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera, has built a gravitational-wave astrophysics group consisting of Postdoctoral Associate Tyson Littenberg, Graduate Student Ben Farr, and a team of undergraduate students. Together, they are developing develop cutting-edge methods to help us understand black holes from the complex data produced by LIGO.
March 2014
  • Graduate Student Ben Farr, who works in Professor Vicky Kalogera's group, has been awarded the Robert R. McCormick Fellowship at the University of Chicago. He will start his work there on July 1st, focusing on gravitational-wave astronomy, and in particular, on the detection and characterization of compact binary mergers from their gravitational-wave and electromagnetic signatures.
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