Students Share in Discovery

Physics major Alyssa Garcia is among the students captivated with the emerging field of astronomy. Her research involves analyzing gravitational-wave data from computer simulations and studying black holes.

“This work is helping me achieve my academic and career goals by giving me the chance to experience what it is like to do research in a big scientific collaboration,” says Garcia, who plans to pursue a doctorate in astrophysics after earning her bachelor’s degree next year.

“Gravitational-wave research is important because it will help us learn more about our universe. What I find fascinating about this field is that there is still so much to learn and discover.”

Seven alumni are currently enrolled in doctoral programs related to gravitational-wave research at such institutions as Caltech and Louisiana State University, located near the LIGO Livingston Observatory. Among Titans working on an advanced degree is Fabian Magaña-Sandoval ’12 (B.S. physics), a doctoral student at Syracuse University who is conducting research to increase the effectiveness of noise-reduction technologies to improve gravitational-wave detection.

Magaña-Sandoval, one of the student co-authors of the journal article describing the discovery, credits his undergraduate experience and faculty mentors who encouraged him to pursue a doctorate.

“In the process of learning how gravitational-wave detectors work, I get to learn about cutting-edge laser technology, modern optics, electronics and astronomy. Gravitational-wave research will help develop a whole new way to observe our universe.”


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