College of Sciences Physicists Named in Award for Detection of Gravitational Waves

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The first detection of gravitational waves, on Sept. 14, 2015, and announced on Feb. 11, 2016, is garnering scientific laurels worldwide. Among the early honors bestowed on the historic scientific achievement was the 2016 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, announced in May 2016.

The prize recognized the masterminds of gravitational wave detection—Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Ronald Drever—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.”  

As official recognition of the role of the members of the LIGO discovery team, including those from Georgia Tech, their names have now been added to the roster of prize recipients.

The LIGO discovery team that made the first detection of gravitational waves comprises more than 1,000 researchers worldwide. It includes School of Physics Associate Professor Laura Cadonati, who is the data analysis coordinator for LIGO, and School of Physics Professor Deirdre Shoemaker, who is the director of the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics.

Working with Cadonati and Shoemaker and also listed as prize recipients are postdoctoral fellows James Clark and Karelle Siellez and graduate students Erika Elise Cowan and Karan Jani.

Six undergraduate researchers—Aiqi Cheng, Brian Day, Steven Forsyth, Seth Kimbrell, Kate Napier, and Tyler Tippens—also worked on the project.   

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of the universe that bend and distort space-time. They are produced during violent cosmic events. LIGO, or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Waves Observatory, is the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded physics experiment to detect gravitational waves, whose existence Albert Einstein predicted more than 100 years ago.

The Gruber Cosmology Prize honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist, or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual, or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in the understanding of the universe.

Photo caption

Pictured are some of the members of the Georgia Tech team who worked on the first detection of gravitational waves: (from left) Karelle Siellez, James Clark, Laura Cadonati, Deirdre Shoemaker, Kate Napier, Brian Day, Aiqi Cheng, Karan Jani, and Seth Kimbrell. Not pictured are Erika Cowan, Steven Forsyth, and Tyler Tippens.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Created: 01/11/2017
  • Modified By: A. Maureen Rouhi
  • Modified: 01/19/2017


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