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2016 was a year to remember for GWPAC at the SANCAS meeting with group members from past and present in attendance.

2016 sacnas dinner

Participating in the meeting from Cal State Fullerton and GWPAC were undergraduates Michelle Aleman, Jeff Bidler, Isa Patane, and Juan Rocha, MS student Adrian Avila-Alvarez, and professors Geoffrey Lovelace and Josh Smith; From our partner, Syracuse University, former CSUF GWPAC members and now Syracuse PhD students Fabian Magaña-Sandoval, Gaby Serna and Daniel Vander-Hyde attended; LSC Spokesperson Gabriela Gonzalez, who helped open GWPAC in 2012 was a keynote speaker; Our friends from LIGO Hanford, Gerardo Moreno and Corey Gray, attended with the LIGO booth as did CSUF physics colleague Professor Gina Passante, physics education researcher and member of the Catalyst Center. 

2016 sacnas geoffrey

Many of our attendees also presented their research in talks and posters. Prof Smith chaired a scientific session called "Gravitational Waves: Opening a New Window on the Universe" and Prof Lovelace gave a presentation in the session about black hole mergers. Prof Passante presented her work in a Scientific Symposium talk entitled, "Using research to improve the teaching and learning of quantum mechanics." Adrian Avila-Alvarez presented a poster on "Assessing whether point-like optical scattering in LIGO optics are related to the annealing process" and Juan Rocha presented a poster on "Assessing the scattered light of crystalline-coated optics for future gravitational-wave detectors." Fabian Magaña-Sandoval presented a talk on part of his thesis work at Syracuse, "Adaptive mode matching upgrade for use of squeezed light in LIGO." During the dinner on Saturday all LIGO scientists in attendance, including many GWPAC members, were invited to the stage to be recognized for the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015. Gabriela Gonzalez then gave a scientifically and personally inspiring keynote about the gravitational-wave discoveries and her journey from being a young student in Argentina to becoming the spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. 

We look forward to SACNAS 2017!

The Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center (GWPAC) at California State University welcomes applications for a Postdoctoral Associate in Gravitational-Wave Physics. GWPAC faculty members include Al Agnew, Geoffrey Lovelace, Jocelyn Read, and Director Joshua Smith. Its research projects include searches for binary systems with black holes and neutron stars with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), characterization of the LIGO detectors, waveform modeling including analytical solutions for neutron stars with realistic equations of state, modes and tides, numerical relativity simulations of binary black hole and black hole neutron star systems as part of the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration, optical characterization of LIGO optics, theoretical calculations of thermal noise and mathematical relativity. The successful applicant will establish and carry out a research program in gravitational-wave physics that compliments the existing strengths in GWPAC and involves undergraduate and master’s students. Women and members of groups traditionally underrepresented in physics and astronomy are especially encouraged to apply.
The application deadline is 10/31/16 or until filled.  
More information is available at 
Please note that our human resources department uses a fairly generic (and aging) form for the application. When navigating it, on page 4, note that you’ll probably need to choose “Other” for your major, because physics and astronomy are not listed. On page 6, it’s not necessary to enter anything. It’s not necessary to enter a driver license on page 7. For employment history, only list positions held after the date you received your doctorate. If you have any trouble uploading your files, please send them directly to me <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

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. 


Cal State Long Beach Associate Professor and GWPAC Visiting Member Prashanth Jaikumar has been awarded funding by the National Science Foundation's Nuclear Theory and Astrophysics program for the project "RUI: Probing Quark Matter through Compact Star Oscillations." The project aims to improve the odds of detecting the gravitational waves from neutron stars by constructing accurate mathematical models of neutron stars and the signals they emit. Prashanth and his students will calculate the oscillation modes of compact stars made in part or entirely of strange quark matter and work to identify trends in the mode spectrum that can be used as gravitational wave fingerprints of the inner structure of neutron stars.

This research has strong overlap with existing GWPAC projects including binary neutron star and neutron star black hole waveform modeling and numerical relativity. "I hope to strengthen my ties with GWPAC through this grant and the student research it will support." says Prashanth. 

Congratulations Prashanth, we look forward to working with you on neutron/quark star research!

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.