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Premier Gravitational Waves Researcher is Guest Speaker at UC Merced Event

March 5, 2020

Physics Professor Gabriela González is one of the world’s leading researchers in gravitational wave research and the global spokesperson for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration which proved one of Albert Einstein’s predictions about the universe.

She is also this year’s guest speaker at the Vital and Alice Pellissier Family Distinguished Lecture Series at UC Merced.

González, one of Louisiana State University’s honored Boyd professors, helped make the worldwide announcement in 2016 that gravitational waves had been discovered, which led to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for LIGO’s founders.

The detection of ripples in the fabric of space that reached us from the violent collision of two black holes more than 1 billion years ago is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of this generation. The discovery ushered in a new era of astrophysics in which scientists can now “hear” cosmic events using gravitational waves that distort space and time, proving predictions Einstein made nearly 100 years ago.

In her March 11 discussion, entitled “Music of the Universe,” González will describe how more than 1,000 scientists from around the world worked for decades to change the way we explore the universe. The free lecture runs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Room 130 of Classroom and Office Building 2 on the UC Merced campus. Those interested in attending are asked to register online.

González is originally from Argentina. Her research career has been focused on developing instruments for LIGO and has taken her from MIT and Penn State to LSU. Among her many honors, she has been named one of the world's top 10 scientists by the journal Nature, selected as one of the top 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine, elected to the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and awarded the NAS prize for Scientific Discovery.

The annual Vital and Alice Pellissier Distinguished Speaker Series is made possible by a generous gift from the Pellissier family to UC Merced.