LIGO Scientist Nergis Mavalvala Named 2010 MacArthur Fellow

MIT Physics Professor and LIGO Scientific Collaboration member Nergis Mavalvala has been named one of 23 MacArthur Fellows for 2010 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Fellowships, nicknamed the "Genius Awards," provide $500,000 of "no strings attached" support over five years and are awarded "to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work." Professor Mavalvala's research on macroscopic quantum systems at MIT has the potential to stretch the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors. Members of her MIT team and others in LIGO will transform Hanford's four-kilometer interferometer (H1) detector into a squeezed-light interferometer in 2011, prior to H1's conversion in Advanced LIGO. The H1 squeezed light experiment represents an important marker on the path to treating kilogram-scale masses as quantum objects.

Find out more about Professor Mavalvala's research into gravitational waves here, and read this New Scientist Q&A with her, in which she describes her reaction on learning she had received the fellowship, and her plans for using the award money to further her research.

See also the full list of 2010 MacArthur Fellows to view the remarkable variety of interests and disciplines represented among this year's recipients.

Image credit: MIT.