California State University, Fullerton

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New Center to Support Gravitational-Wave Research

Sept. 19, 2012

What:

Cal State Fullerton will mark the opening of its new Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center Friday, Sept. 28, at a gathering for student and faculty researchers. Scholars will be collaborating on gravitational-wave research, education and outreach at the new center in McCarthy Hall. Prominent scientists in the field will be among those attending the invitation-only event from 2-5 p.m. Media representatives are welcome.

Where:

Cal State Fullerton, McCarthy Hall, Room 601
800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, 92831

Who/When:

Guest speakers include:
3:15 p.m. — Gabriela Gonzalez of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration. LIGO is a collaboration of more than 800 scientists worldwide leading gravitational-wave research efforts and funded by the National Science Foundation. Gonzalez is a professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University and is active with research activities at the LIGO observatory in Livingston, La., one of two gravitational-wave detector sites in the United States. The other U.S. site is in Hanford, Wash., with observatories also in Italy and Germany.

3:30 p.m. — Kip S. Thorne, California Institute of Technology’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus. Thorne is an expert in gravitation physics and astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes and gravitational waves. He is author of “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy.” His talk will focus on general relativity and gravitational waves.

Background:

Center director Joshua Smith, assistant professor of physics, is among physicists worldwide working on the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. The center housed within the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics was established to train the next generation of leaders in gravitational-wave science, as well as promote a diverse gravitational-wave science community, new scientific development and expand knowledge of the universe through gravitational-wave observations, Smith said. To date, Smith has received $535,000 in funding for his research efforts to improve LIGO detectors. CSUF became a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration in 2009.

New Physics Faculty:

Two new faculty members have joined the college this fall and will play key roles in the development and research projects of the center:
Geoffrey M. Lovelace, assistant professor of physics, who earned a doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology. He worked for five years as a research associate at Cornell University before coming to CSUF. As a graduate student at Caltech, he worked with Thorne, who was his adviser, on gravitational-wave research efforts. A theorist specializing in numerical relatively, his research focuses on using supercomputer simulations to model sources of gravitational waves — ripples of space-time curvature — such as colliding black holes or a black hole tearing apart a neutron star. By detecting these waves, experiments like LIGO will be able to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity under the most extreme conditions, Lovelace said.

Jocelyn S. Read, assistant professor of physics, who earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Her research interests focus on the astrophysics of neutron stars — the remnant cores of dead stars that didn't quite have enough mass to end up as black holes. She studies how matter behaves at the extremely high densities inside neutron stars and how this might be measured from astronomical observations of X-rays, gamma-ray bursts and gravitational waves. Read completed postdoctoral work at the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, Germany, and at the University of Mississippi.

Media Contacts:

Joshua Smith, Physics, 657-278-3716
Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & Research