Nergis Mavalvala

Recipient of the 2010 MacArthur “Genius” Award

About the speaker

Dr Nergis Mavalvala is an astrophysicist working on the detection of gravitational waves and quantum measurement science. She is a longtime member of the scientific team that announced in 2016 the first direct detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). In the quest for ever greater sensitivity in the LIGO detectors, Mavalvala has also conducted pioneering experiments on generation and application of exotic quantum states of light, and has developed techniques that could enable observation of quantum phenomena, that usually manifest at the atomic scale, in human-scale systems.
Mavalvala received a BA from Wellesley College and a PhD from MIT. She was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology before joining the Physics faculty at MIT in 2002, and was appointed Associate Department Head of Physics in February 2015. Mavalvala is recipient of numerous honours, including a MacArthur “Genius” award in 2010 and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016.

About the lecture: Opening a New Window into the Universe: The 100-Year Quest for Einstein's Gravitational Waves

More than 100 years ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. In 2016, Dr Nergis Mavalvala and her team made the first ever detections of gravitational waves from colliding black holes and neutron stars, which launched a new era of gravitational wave astrophysics. Hear from Dr Mavalvala as she discussed the science, technology and human story behind this groundbreaking discovery and how her team is helping to solve decades-long mysteries. 

More about the speaker and her work

Helping Scientists Succeed
The MIT Alumni Association spoke to Dr Nergis Mavalvala, the first woman to serve as dean of MIT’s School of Science.

TEDxCUHK video - Birth and Rebirth: From Stellar Dust to Supermassive Blackholes
Dr Tjonnie Li, associate professor at the Department of Physics of the Chinese University of Hong Kong gives an audio-visual tour of the birth and rebirth of black holes- from the creation of black holes through stellar explosions to the merger of two black holes forming a new, heavier black hole.

Scientists Detected Gravitational Waves That Could Stem From ‘Dark Matter Particles'
Scientists have detected high-frequency gravitational waves that are beyond the range of most detectors and have never been recorded before.

Check out SUTD's work in space