News and Announcements

Karan Jani selected as one of only two finalists for the 2009 Vanderbilt Prize awarded for undergraduate research in Physics and Astronomy!

The Vanderbilt Prize is awarded following a nation-wide competition. Karan's entry, based on his research here, was entitled "The Effect of Initial Orientation of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna on its Sensitivity Pattern."

CGWP students garner top honors at 2009 Undergraduate Exhibition

Karan Jani and Meagan Lang were both recognized at this years Undergraduate Exibition.
Penn State's annual Undergraduate Exhibition communicates and celebrates the participation of undergraduate students from across the University in research and creative endeavors. Undergraduate students from all Penn State campuses are invited to enter poster or performance presentations to showcase their work to a general audience.

Posters or Presentations entered are from the areas of arts and humanities (including visual arts), engineering, health and life sciences, physical sciences, public scholarship, and social and behavioral sciences (including business) or as course-based projects in any discipline. Monetary prizes are awarded to the top entries in each category. The Gerard A. Hauser Award is given to the exhibition entry judged best overall.

Meagan Lang was awarded the Gerard A. Hauser Award for the best overall presentation in the area of Undergraduate research. The award carries with it a $500.00 cash prize. Meagan's presentation entitled "Improving Real-Time Gravitational Wave Astronomy"
In order to improve our ability to detect gravitational waves in real-time using the existing LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors, we (Sam Finn and myself) have combined techniques like triggered searches, improved noise modeling, maximum entropy deconvolution, and automated results notification into a data analysis pipeline capable of running continuously during detector operation. The Maximum Entropy Pipeline (MTP) will not only improve our ability to recover gravitational wave signals, but will also allow us to detect these signals in detector data just moments after it is collected. Overall, MTP will unlock many opportunities for the use of gravitational wave astronomy in a large variety of research fields.
Karan Jani was awarded First Prize in the Physical Sciences Category which included a cash prize of $150.00. Karan's presentation titled: "Pointing Space Based Gravitational Wave Telescope" summarized Karan's work on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) , a proposed NASA/ESA space based gravitational wave detector. The initial orientation of LISA changes the mean sensitivity of the detector towards a gravitational wave source. It also affects the regions in the sky where LISA is insensitive. So by choosing proper initial orientation, one can orient LISA in such a way that the most important sources get more sensitive.

Fourth Annual Research Symposium

On February 26, 2009 the Astronomy held its Forth Annual Research Symposium in 528 Davey Lab. Each year the faculty vote for the most outstanding research presentation. A task made more difficult this year because of the high callibure of all the participants research work. Many of the faculty commented on how hard the process was and that all the students had added to the rich and proud tradition of high quality undergraduate research that has characterized the Astronomy program for decades. This year the Center had two worthy students participate, Karan Pankaj Jani and Meagan Lang. We are proud to announce that Megan Lang was this years winner!

CGWP Science Jamboree

Dr. Eracleous
The CGWP held its first annual Science Jamboree, October 16. This event was open to all members of the CGWP. The "Jamboree" platform offered an opportunity to summarize the research efforts of both faculty and students. Presentation guidelines were simple and strictly enforced by Dr. Mike Eracleous. Each participant was given three minutes to present their research and could include one transparency as a visual aide. The presentations were followed by a two minute question and answer period.

A conversation
with Pablo Laguna

When black holes collide: Their echoes in the universe

This Spring, Dr. Pablo Laguna discussed black holes in a presentation entitled "When black holes collide: Their echoes in the universe" as part of the "Research Unplugged" spring series. In Dr. Laguna's "thirty-second short course" in general relativity he described his research on black hole mergers and their impact on our universe. When questioned about the practicality of this research, Dr. Laguna replied "We are all curious about the neighborhood where we live. Black holes are part of our neighborhood." The "Research Unplugged"series is an on going "Cafe" style initiative providing an informal forum, open to all, for exploring ideas.

Moving on...

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann accepts position at Vanderbilt University

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, a research associate at the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics, has recently accepted a position as assistant professor with Vanderbilt University. The position will allow Kelly to continue her research in galaxy dynamics.

Dr. Holley-Bockelmann will also be teaching introductory graduate level astronomy as well as focusing on making Vanderbilt a presence in the area of extragalactic and gravitational wave astronomy.

Louis Rubbo accepts position with Coastal Carolina University

Louis Rubbo, a postdoctoral scholar with the Center for Gravitational Wave Physics, has recently accepted a faculty position with Coastal Carolina University.

Louis will be teaching introductory astronomy as well as taking the lead in developing the university's advanced physics curriculum. In addition Louis will continue his research in gravitational wave astronomy.

Sponsored by the Topical Group in Gravity for best presentation by a student at the 16th Midwestern Relativity meeting.

Nicolas Yunes awarded the prestigious "Blue Apple" award.

The 16th Midwestern Relativity Meeting was held in November at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. With over 90 participants this year's event boasts the largest attendance on record. The award called the "Blue Apple" is presented in recognition of the best student presentation at the meeting.

Nico's talk entitled: "How to kick a hole and other eccentric stories" was based on a collaborative effort with Dr. Pablo Laguna and Dr. Carlos Sopuerta. This collaboration talk has also merited publication in the Astrophysical Journal.