Winner of the 2021 Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration Announced

The LIGO Laboratory congratulates Ethan Payne of Caltech for winning this year’s LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration for his pivotal role in improving the incorporation of LIGO detector calibration errors into analyses that infer the likely source of a gravitational wave signal.

Payne wins this year’s award for his leading role in breaking down a multifaceted computational barrier to allow an estimation of systematic calibration error to be easily ingested by astrophysical analyses. The software infrastructure he developed allowed for detector calibration error estimates to be smoothly integrated into gravitational-wave source analyses such as Bilby and drastically reduced the computational cost of accounting for calibration error. Payne’s work was deployed in the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration’s flagship results for the most recent observing run, O3, recently released in the latest gravitational wave event catalog GWTC-3 and companion papers.

Payne’s breakthrough unlocks the ability for researchers to easily study when and how detector calibration error will impact astrophysical source analysis for future gravitational wave detections. His effort significantly improves our ability to perform precision tests of fundamental physics and probe new frontiers in astrophysics with gravitational waves.

Payne will receive a $1,000 prize and present an invited seminar at one of the LIGO Laboratory sites (LIGO-Hanford, LIGO-Livingston, Caltech, or MIT) to share his achievements with LIGO Laboratory members. Payne will also be presented with an award certificate at the next meeting of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration.

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

Discover another excellent LIGO Detector Characterization and Calibration project that earned honorable mention for the 2021 award.

Image credit: Alvin Li

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