LSU’s Gabriela Gonzalez Named Spokesperson for LIGO System
BATON ROUGE – Gabriela Gonzalez, LSU professor of physics & astronomy, has been elected to the position of spokesperson for the Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration, or LIGO LSC, which consists of more than 800 scientists worldwide.
“I feel very honored to be chosen by my colleagues to lead the LSC, a large group involving some of the best scientists around the world on gravitational wave science,” said Gonzalez. “We are all looking forward to the time in the near future when the advanced LIGO detectors now under construction will detect for the first time the ripples in space time that Einstein’s theory predicts but have eluded detection until now.”
The LIGO spokesperson leads the LIGO LSC and represents the group to the outside world. Responsibilities include developing strategies, resolving challenges, ensuring proper function and protocol of the group, approving publications and the release of scientific results and other such executive decisions.
“Gabriela is a wonderful candidate to become the spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration at this special moment in the project as we make the transition from the initial LIGO to the Advanced LIGO detector,” said Rai Weiss, professor emeritus at MIT, LIGO’s first spokesperson and Gonzalez’s post-doctoral mentor. “We have established the technology with the initial system and now have a high probability of making gravitational wave observations with the improved detector. Gabriela is one of those rare collaboration members with intimate knowledge of both the instrument and the data analysis, experience that will serve her and the collaboration well as we enter this new epoch.”
Gonzalez was elected by more than 50 percent in the first round of voting, eliminating the need for further elections, and approved by a majority vote of the LSC. She will serve as spokesperson for a two-year term.
Gonzalez is a Fellow of the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation; the American Physical Society, or APS; and the Institute of Physics. In 2007, she received the APS Edward Bouchet Award. She currently serves as a member of the LSU Council on Women, an elected member of the Department of Physics & Astronomy’s Steering Committee and as the department’s graduate advisor. She also is a member of the Classical Quantum and Gravity Editorial Board and the elected secretary-treasurer of the APS Topical group on gravitation, among many other honors.
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, formed in 1998, is a group of researchers joined together in the search for gravitational waves. The LSC now has 840 members from 50 different scientific institutions in 12 countries. There are only two LIGO observatories in the country, a federal project funded by the National Science Foundation. One is located in Livingston, La., and the other is at the Hanford Observatory, located near Richland, Wash. The LIGO detectors are currently in the process of being upgraded to Advanced LIGO and due to come back on line in 2013. Many LSU faculty, students and post-doctoral researchers are very involved with the Livingston Observatory and the science education center located there. For more information on LIGO, visit www.ligo.org.