The National Science Foundation is gathering scientists from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations to discuss the current status of gravitational-wave astronomy in revealing extreme events in the cosmos. School of Physics Professor Laura Cadonati is among 15 scientists who will discuss recent findings in two panels.

The press conference will take place on October 16, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C. The public can watch the conference in real time at

The first detection of gravitational waves, made on September 14, 2015, and announced on February 11, 2016, was a milestone in physics and astronomy; it confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Since then, there have been three more confirmed detections, one of which (and the most recently announced) was the first confirmed detection seen jointly by both the LIGO and Virgo detectors.

The published articles announcing LIGO’s first, second, and third confirmed detections have been cited more than 1,700 times (total), according to the Web of Science citation counts. A fourth paper on the three-detector observation was published on October 6; a manuscript was made publicly available on September 27.

The following researchers will offer brief opening remarks over the course of two panels, with time for questions at the end of each panel:

10:00 a.m.

Moderator: France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation

  • David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory/Caltech
  • David Shoemaker, Spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/MIT
  • Jo van den Brand, Spokesperson, Virgo Collaboration/Nikhef, VU University Amsterdam
  • Julie McEnery, Fermi Project Scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Marica Branchesi, Virgo Collaboration/Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy
  • Vicky Kalogera, Astrophysicist, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Northwestern University

11:15 a.m.

Moderator: Jim Ulvestad, NSF Assistant Director (Acting) for Mathematical and Physical Sciences

  • Laura Cadonati, Deputy Spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration/Georgia Tech
  • Andy Howell, Staff Scientist at Las Cumbres Observatory/UC-Santa Barbara
  • Ryan Foley, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California-Santa Cruz
  • Marcelle Soares-Santos, Assistant Professor of Physics, Brandeis University
  • David Sand, Assistant Professor in Astronomy, University of Arizona
  • Nial Tanvir, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Leicester, UK
  • Edo Berger, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University
  • Eleonora Troja, Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland
  • Alessandra Corsi, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas Tech University

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Event Details


  • Monday, October 16, 2017 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

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  • Laura Cadonati

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For More Information Contact

A. Maureen Rouhi, Ph.D.
Director of Communications
College of Sciences