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Highlights

Jocelyn Read leads LIGO's Extreme Matter group and has been central in the gravitational-wave community's exploration of the matter involved in the neutron-star merger known as GW170817, measured by LIGO and Virgo in 2017. The team's research was described today, including a quote from Jocelyn, in the Scientific American article "Gravitational Waves Reveal the Heart of Neutron Stars."

This article arrives on the heels of Jocelyn visiting New York City and Palm Springs to discuss the results at three venues.

Jocelyn Read
Jocelyn Read speaks at Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Physics.

She was part of a four-person panel, each among the foremost experts in gravitational-wave astrophysics, discussing "A Merger in Space: Black Holes And Neutron Stars" at the NYU Grand Hall, as part of the Big Ideas Series (supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation) and the World Science Festival.  

She also spoke at the workshop "Nuclear astrophysics in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy," which was organized by Annals of Physics and took place at Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Physics on 30 and 31 May, also in collaboration with the World Science Festival. 

And over the weekend, she gave a plenary presentation at the Thirteenth Conference on the Intersections of Particle and Nuclear Physics in Palm Springs, CA. 

Great work on understanding neutron star matter by Jocelyn and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo!

This Sunday, May 21, five students from Cal State Fullerton's Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center (GWPAC) will graduate and enter graduate schools and industry. Additionally, two of our 2016 graduates will enter graduate school programs. 

2016 nousha smallNousha Afshari. Credit: OC Register.Nousha Afshari, who delivered one of the two student speeches at the 2016 College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Commencement, will leave a position at Johnson and Johnson to pursue a Master's in Medical Physics at McGill University. While in GWPAC Nousha was the undergraduate system administator for the ORCA computing cluster and performed numerical simulations of merging black holes. 

Nick Demos, mentored by Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace, co-authored a paper on merging black holes published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity and helped develop code to simulate thermal noise in gravitational-wave detector optics. Nick will graduate with a BSc this Sunday and begin Ph.D. studies in physics at MIT this fall.

Alyssa Garcia will graduate on Sunday with a BSc in physics. Alyssa’s research focuses on analyzing and comparing model gravitational waveforms for colliding black holes, she has presented her work at regional, national, and international conferences, and she is a co-author on a paper published in Classical and Quantum Gravity in which she presents her results comparing different computational models of the first gravitational waves that LIGO measured. She will begin PhD studies in physics at Brandeis University this fall.

John Derby will graduate on Sunday with a master's degree in physics. He used supercomputer simulations of merging black holes to test whether they obey the “spin limit” that has been proven to hold for single black holes. We don’t know for sure whether that limit can be violated when two black holes merge, but John found that it held in a simulation of merging black holes with the highest initial black-hole spins to date. John also used simulations to explore how black holes tear apart neutron stars when the black hole is rapidly spinning. john derbyJohn Derby.

Chancellor TorreyTorrey explains his research to CSU Chancellor Timothy White. Credit: Matt Gush, CSUF.

Haroon Khan is graduating in May 2017 with a major in electrical engineering and a minor in physics. Haroon transferred to Cal State Fullerton, motivated by his participation in the STEM^2 Summer Research Experience, in 2014. His research continues his STEM^2 work in the department of physics, where has focused on visualizing merging black holes and their spacetime curvature. Haroon has helped to make images and movies of merging black holes that have appeared in the national and international media. Haroon looks forward to a career in engineering, and hopes one day to work as an aerospace engineer at NASA.

Torrey Cullen, a 2016 BSc graduate in physics, and a current research associate in GWPAC with Dr. Jocelyn Read, will be entering a PhD program in gravitational physics and optics at Lousiana State University. Currently Torrey and Dr. Read are writing a paper on the detectability of astrophysical effects from neutron star matter in gravitational-wave signals.

Three of these GWPAC graduates: Alyssa Garcia, Nick Demos, and Haroon Khan (all three supervised by Dr. Lovelace) won this year's Outstanding Student Scholarly Awards in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Engineering. 

2017 nsm awardsLeft to right: Nick Demos, Geoffrey Lovelace, Haroon Khan, Alyssa Garcia. Credit: Greg Andersen.

GWPAC is extremely proud of all of your accomplishments and we are excited to see what the future holds for you!

 

On March 29, 2017, Jocelyn Read gave the annual Peter Sim Memorial Lecture for the Calgary chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Her public talk on gravitational waves, black holes, and neutron stars commemorated Peter Sim, an outstanding public education volunteer.  

This capped off an outstanding month for Jocelyn, in which she was named the 2017 Science and Technology Woman of the Year in California's 29th Senate District (link) and served as the Lead Editor for LIGO Magazine, a twice-yearly publication by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration on the latest research, news, and personalities across the collaboration (her message from the editor is on page 4).  

2017 jocelyn calgary plaque

Three GWPAC undergraduate student researchers, Nick Demos and Alyssa Garcia (College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics) and Haroon Khan (College of Engineering), all supervised by Professor Geoffrey Lovelace, will receive the California State University Fullerton’s 2017 Outstanding Student Scholarly and Creative Activities Award.

On April 3, 2017, CSU Fullerton’s Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Projects, Dr. Chris Liu, announced the recipients to the campus community, saying,

“The award recognizes excellence in student participation in research or creative activities, and is presented to one undergraduate and one graduate student per college working collaboratively with a faculty member or independently on a research project or creative activity.”

The recipients will be honored at Student Creative Activities and Research Day on Wednesday, April 12th from 1:00-1:30 P.M. in the TSU Pavilion A.

This is the first time that a GWPAC student has won this award, and we are extremely proud that GWPAC student researchers swept the undergraduate awards for both the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Engineering. All three students will graduate in May 2017 and we are excited about what the future holds for them.

nick demos 8ddb5de3655c3f51f6d8ae6351425e3dNick Demos has been admitted to several major Ph.D. physics programs, including at Caltech and MIT, and he is looking forward to pursuing graduate study in physics this fall. Nick’s research focuses on using supercomputers to model gravitational waves from merging black holes and thermal noise in LIGO mirrors. He has presented his work at regional and national meetings, he has helped to create visualizations of merging black holes that have appeared in the national and international media, and he is a co-author on a paper published in Classical and Quantum Gravity, in which he presents some of his results.

alyssa garcia 782612d87a76752cf0d54af65020dbb3Alyssa Garcia has also been admitted to several major physics Ph.D. programs, including Brandeis University, Syracuse University, and Penn State. Alyssa’s research focuses on analyzing and comparing model gravitational waveforms for colliding black holes. She has presented her work at regional, national, and international conferences, and she is a co-author on a paper published in Classical and Quantum Gravity in which she presents her results comparing different computational models of the first gravitational waves that LIGO measured.

haroon dino small cropped a6eebee580ece1696134d84282fe8b36Haroon Khan will graduate in May with a major in electrical engineering and a minor in physics. Haroon transferred to Cal State Fullerton, motivated by his participation in the STEM^2 Summer Research Experience, in 2014. His research continues his STEM^2 work in the department of physics, where has focused on visualizing merging black holes and their spacetime curvature. Haroon has helped to make images and movies of merging black holes that have appeared in the national and international media. Haroon looks forward to a career in engineering, and hopes one day to work as an aerospace engineer at NASA.

Congratulations to all three award winners!

Jocelyn Sen NewmanSenator Josh Newman presents Professor Jocelyn Read with a California Senate recognition of her accomplishments.

Jocelyn Read has been named Woman of the Year in Science and Technology in 2017 for California's 29th Senate District by California State Senator Josh Newman (See the full press release in Voice of OC).

Senator Newman welcomed Jocelyn at his Brea offices on Friday, April 21st, presenting her with a California Senate Resolution and speaking with her about her role in the gravitational-wave discovery. CSU Fullerton Master's student Torrey Cullen (who is currently writing a reserach article together with Jocelyn), as well as professors Josh Smith and Geoffrey Lovelace accompanied Jocelyn (as her cheering section). During the visit, the CSUF contingent also had the opportunity to talk about black holes with District Representative Katerina Ioannides. 

Jocelyn, an Assistant Professor in California State University Fullerton's Department of Physics, is an astrophysicist and a world's expert on extreme stellar objects called neutron stars and the gravitational-wave signatures they produce. She leads a team of student researchers in CSUF's Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center (GWPAC) and in 2016 she contributed to the first direct detection of gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years earlier (read more). She is also the Principal Investigator of the $1M NSF Partnerships In Astronomy and Astrophysics Research award that is helping to train the next generation of gravitational-wave scientists.

Jocelyn, you are an outstanding teacher, mentor, and researcher. Congratulations on this award from the other members of GWPAC!