LIGO Hanford. Credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

Winners of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration Are Announced

News Release • November 20, 2018

The LIGO Laboratory congratulates Derek Davis of Syracuse University and T.J. Massinger of Caltech for winning the first LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration.

Derek Davis

Derek Davis (Photo: Syracuse University)

T.J. Massinger

T.J. Massinger (Photo: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab/K. Blackburn)

The LIGO gravitational wave detectors have registered gravitational wave signals from multiple black hole mergers and the spectacular collision of two neutron stars since Advanced LIGO first began observing in 2015. Davis and Massinger’s work to reduce the noise present in LIGO detector data was key to making these discoveries possible by allowing searches to more easily distinguish the signatures of true astrophysical gravitational wave events in noisy detector data.

By improving how deep in space the LIGO-Hanford detector could sense by up to 50%, at least three gravitational wave signals were confidently detected during Advanced LIGO's second observing run (O2) that would not have been otherwise. Their efforts are an outstanding example of the detector characterization work needed to lay the groundwork for future discoveries in gravitational wave astrophysics and multi-messenger astronomy.

Davis and Massinger will share a $1000 prize and are invited to present colloquia at one of the the LIGO Laboratory sites (LIGO-Hanford, LIGO-Livingston, Caltech, or MIT) to share their achievements with LIGO Laboratory members. They will each receive an award certificate at the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration meeting in March 2019.

Derek Davis is currently a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University. As a part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, they serve as the Event Validation Lead for the LIGO Detector Characterization group, leading follow-up investigations of candidate gravitational-wave detections.

T.J. Massinger is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. He earned his PhD in 2016 from Syracuse University. Within the LIGO Detector Characterization group, he serves as instrument science lead and as a liaison to the compact binary coalescence data analysis working group.

Read more about the LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration.

Find a list of excellent LIGO Detector Characterization and Calibration projects that earned honorable mention for the 2018 award.