Scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory continue to haul in awards, with LIGO Scientific Collaboration spokeswoman Gabriela González being the most recent recipient of additional honors.
González, an LSU professor of physics and astronomy, received the National Academy of Sciences’ 2017 Award for Scientific Discovery on Jan. 26.
That award and others received previously stem from the LIGO group’s groundbreaking detection of gravitational waves – or ripples in spacetime – from a black hole merger 1.3 billion light years away, which was announced Feb. 11, 2016. LIGO has two observatories, one in Livingston Parish and the other in Washington State where they search for gravitational waves.
González shares the most recent award with former LIGO Scientific Collaboration spokesman David Howard Reitze, now executive director of the LIGO Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and Peter R. Saulson, the Martin A. Pomerantz ’37 Professor of Physics at Syracuse University.
Saulson served as the first elected spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, filling a role first established by physics pioneer and LIGO co-founder Rainer Weiss. Reitze succeeded Saulson, and González, in her sixth year as spokeswoman, has been the longest-serving.
The award announcement comes a week after LIGO members proudly posted on social media photographs of their "Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics" medals.
“Proof that the cool kids study gravity,” data scientist Laura Sampson tweeted, along with a photo of her medal.
The team’s growing list of accolades also includes the 2016 Gruber Cosmology Prize, Physics World’s 2016 Breakthrough of the Year and being listed among Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers for 2016.