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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!