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GWPAC students Nousha Afshari, Torrey Cullen, Nick Demos, John Derby, Alyssa Garcia, Haroon Khan, and Conner Park, and faculty Geoffrey Lovelace, Jocelyn Read, and Josh Smith attended the April 2016 Meeting of the American Physical Society, held in Salt Lake City, Utah. 


The meeting brought together hundreds of physicists from 18 divisions of APS. It also marked two milestones for the field of gravitation, the discovery of gravitational-waves from a merging binary system of black holes and the APS Topical Group on Gravitation becoming the APS Division of Gravitational Physics

Among the many excellent presentations at the meeting were 8 by GWPAC members: 2016-aps-nick

Nousha Afshari’s poster, “Comparing numerical and analytic approximate gravitational waveforms,” 

Torrey Cullen’s poster, “Hybridizing Gravitational Waveforms of Inspiralling Binary Neutron Star Systems,”

Nick Demos’ poster, “Modeling Thermal Noise from Crystaline Coatings for Gravitational-Wave Detectors,”

Alyssa Garcia’s poster, “Making and Testing Hybrid Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes and Neutron Stars,”

Haroon Khan’s poster, ``Visualizing the gravitational lensing and vortex and tendex lines of colliding black holes,” 

2016-aps-alyssaGeoffrey Lovelace’s talk, “Modeling rapidly spinning, merging black holes with numerical relativity for the era of first gravitational-wave observations,”  

Conner Park’s poster, “Modeling Binary Neutron Stars,” and

Jocelyn Read’s talk, “Gravitational waves from neutron-star mergers.”

Additionally, Cal State Fullerton professor Gina Passante, who has taught most of the GWPAC students quantum mechanics, presented a talk on her physics education research entitled, "Student understanding of the time dependence of spin-1/2 systems."

Outside of the meeting, the Fullerton attendees found time to visit the local eateries, visit the Salt Lake, and hike Red Butte Canyon and Millcreek Canyon with their fellow physicists. 


Nousha AfshariWith funding from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, a Major Research Instrumentation award from the National Science Foundation, and startup funds from California State University Fullerton, GWPAC has completed a major upgrade and expansion of its local computing cluster, the Orange county Relativity Cluster for Astronomy (ORCA). 

Compute nodes of the ORCA computing clusterThe machine, housed in the University Data Center, now has more than 1500 gigabytes of memory, more than 30 terabytes of local storage, and 576 compute cores that together are capable of more than 7 trillion operations per second. This more than doubles the number of student projects that ORCA can support, including simulations of merging black holes and neutron stars, gravitational-waveform modeling, and LIGO detector characterization algorithms. 

A team of GWPAC students assisted in assembling, cabling, and testing the new hardware on Friday October 17 and Monday October 20. After benchmarking and temperature testing, ORCA is now again producing gravitational-wave science results. 

The 2014 SACNAS national conference was held in the LA Convention Center (right next to the Staples Center) in Downtown LA from October 16 to 18. The CSUF department of physics and college of natural science and mathematics were well represented. The Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center (GWPAC) sent a strong contingent, with students Adrian Avila-Alvarez, Daniel Vander-Hyde, Joshua Hacker, and Erik Muniz and professors Jocelyn Read and Josh Smith in attendance.

Jocelyn Read presents a talk on neutron star astrophysics at SACNAS 2014.Jocelyn Read presents a talk on neutron star astrophysics at SACNAS 2014.

Daniel Vander-Hyde presented a poster entitled "A comparison of optical scatter from coated and uncoated optics for quantum noise filter cavities," work that relates to implementing squeezed light in the LIGO detectors and will soon be submitted for publication. 

Josh Hacker presents a poster on his LIGO-related optics research. Josh Hacker presented in the graduate students section the poster "An imaging scatterometer for characterizing surface and bulk scatter." At CSUF, Josh continues to upgrade and document the imaging scatterometer. 

Josh Smith organized and chaired a Scientific Symposium session, "Seeing and Hearing the Violent Universe with Gravitational Waves and Light" featuring an invited presentation by Jocelyn Read, entitled "Neutron stars and gravitational waves," along with talks by Caltech's Nicholas Smith and Larry Price. The session was attended by 40-50 scientists, mostly students, and ended with a lively Q&A session between the audience and a panel of the three speakers and student representative Daniel Vander-Hyde.  

Daniel Vander-HydeGeoffrey Lovelace and his GWPAC students did not attend SACNAS 2014, as they were busy assembling the greatly upgraded ORCA computing cluster in the CSUF data center. 

GWPAC members are eagerly awaiting SACNAS 2015 in Washington DC! 

On April 22-23, 2015, GWPAC undergraduate researcher Haroon Khan visited Washington DC to present his research to members of Congress as part of the Council for Undergraduate Research's prestigious Posters on the Hill program. Haroon was selected as one of 60 from the entire US out of an applicant pool or more than 500 students. Haroon's poster focused on "Simulating colliding black holes for gravitaitonal wave astronomy," work that he is doing together with his research mentor, physics professor Geoffrey Lovelace

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While in Washington, Haroon and Lovelace had the opportunity to meet with California's U.S. Representative Ed Royce (CA-39) and his staff, and with staff from the office of U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) and from the office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. In addition, they visited the White House complex, saw congressional deliberations on the America Competes Act, and visited the Air and Space Museum.  

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Haroon is the first student from the College of Natural Science and Mathematics and the second from California State University Fullerton to participate in Posters on the Hill. The first was psychology student Kevin Chavarria, who presented his research on "When Parents Are Twins: Double Look at Social Relations Within Families," together with faculty mentor Nancy Segal in 2007. 

Haroon's work was supported by National Science Foundation grant PHY-1307489 and STEM^2 Department of Education grant P031C110116-12. 

Congratulations Haroon and Geoffrey! 

Syracuse University Gravitational-Wave Group members Samantha Usman (undergraduate), Fabian Magaña-Sandoval (grad student), and Duncan Brown (faculty) visited GWPAC from May 19 to 23 2014. Their visit was part of the undergraduate to graduate bridge between the BS/MS program at Fullerton and the Ph.D. program in Syracuse. Throughout the week discussions focused on graduate school opportunities at Syracuse, collaborative research projects, and career mentoring. Students and faculty presented their research, worked together in small groups, and found time to go surfting and visit Disneyland.

Thank you very much Samantha, Fabian, and Duncan. We're looking forward to seeing you all again soon. 

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