The LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration


About the Award and How to Self-nominate

This award recognizes outstanding early career researchers who have made impactful contributions to gravitational wave astrophysics through LIGO detector characterization or calibration.

All astrophysical gravitational wave results, from signal detection to source-property estimation through population estimates, critically depend on a deep understanding of the detector noise and data calibration. Detector characterization efforts are responsible for improving the performance of all astrophysical analyses by mitigating the effect of complex and constantly evolving noise sources originating from the detectors' control systems or their local environment. Additionally, accurate calibration with well-understood uncertainties critically enables astrophysical source property-estimation, including sky localization, distance, mass, and spin.

Awardees will receive $1,000 and each awardee will be granted a travel award to present an invited seminar on their research at one of the LIGO Laboratory sites: Caltech, MIT, LIGO Hanford, or LIGO Livingston.

The LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration is the sole external award sponsored by the LIGO Laboratory to highlight the critical and fundamental importance of detector characterization and calibration to the broader astrophysical sciences.

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Award Dates

The nomination deadline for the 2019 LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration was Monday November 4, 2019.

The LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration will be awarded annually in late December, with the nomination deadline announced during or near each Fall LIGO-Virgo Collaboration meeting.

The invited seminars will typically take place within two months of the award date (by March 1 of the following year). Recipients will receive a certificate from the LIGO Laboratory Director at the following Spring LIGO-Virgo collaboration meeting.



Graduate students (Masters or PhD) and postdocs within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration working on LIGO detector characterization or calibration projects will be eligible to nominate themselves for the LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration. Nominations may include work conducted up to three years prior.

Nominees can be individuals and/or small teams of 2-3 people. Teams may include senior members, but they are not eligible for the monetary/travel award.


How to Self-nominate

Nominees should arrange to send the following documents in advance of the nomination deadline to

  1. A summary of a well-defined and delivered contribution to LIGO characterization or calibration efforts, written by the nominee(s)
  2. A letter of support from a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration

The summary of achievement (suggested length 1-2 pages) should include:

  • A clear, succinct, high-level title that captures the project described in your nomination for the general public (ideally 10 words or less)
  • A statement of the contribution to LIGO detector characterization and calibration in terms of a well-defined project, and the nominee's or nominees' specific role(s)
  • A summary of the impact of the results found or improvements delivered on the LIGO Scientific Collaboration results

The letter of support (suggested length 1-2 pages) should address:

  • The nominee's or nominees' individual contributions to the project
  • The impact and significance of the nominee's project to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the broader fields of physics, astrophysics, and astronomy. For example: As a result of this work, the collaboration was able to report more confident detections; conduct an astrophysical analysis for the first time; achieve the unprecedented sensitivity required to probe new physics; etc. It is particularly helpful if the impact is articulated in detail.