Highlights: Jess in the press

Dr. Jess McIver at Caltech

February 2, 2019

Jess participated in the 2019 American Physical Society leadership convocation February 1-2, 2019 in Washington D.C. as a member of the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Gravitational Physics. Just ahead of the convocation, APS organized the 2019 Congressional Visits Day. As part of the Southern California and Arizona APS delegation, Jess met with the offices of U.S. senators and house representatives to discuss national issues including basic research funding, immigration, and climate change.

Screenshot of IPAM talk

January 28, 201

Jess gave an invited talk on Mitigating noise artifacts in gravitational-wave detector data in the era of open public alerts at the Computational Challenges in Gravitational Wave Astronomy workshop hosted by the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA. You can watch a video of Jess's talk and other talks given at the workshop on the IPAM website.

January 18, 2019

The LIGO Detector Characterization group had a face-to-face meeting at LIGO-Livingston January 14-15, 2019. The group discussed plans for automating noise studies and gravitational wave candidate event validation for the upcoming LIGO-Virgo observing run, O3, as well as the performance of the LIGO detectors during ER13.

Nearly 20 detector characterizers stayed at LIGO-Livingston for a detector characterization noise sprint workshop January 16-18, 2019. The group split into small teams and tackled noise diagnostic projects ranging from persistent transient glitches to seismic trends.

Jess at Mohon
Jess speaking with Mohonasen students. Photo by R. Higgins.

December 21, 2018

Jess paid an annual visit to Mohonasen High School, her alma matter, to talk to precalculus students about gravitation wave astrophysics, interferometers, and the real-life applications of the math they're learning this year.

December 18, 2018

The LIGO and Virgo detectors participated in the 13th advanced detector engineering run (ER13) from December 14, 2018 at 8:00 am Pacific to December 18 2018 at 06:00 am Pacific. LIGO-Livingston achieved an average sensitive range to binary neutron star collisions of over 100 Mpc! LIGO-Hanford achieved about 80 Mpc, and Virgo just under 50 Mpc. You can stay plugged into the progress of the detectors via the public LIGO-Virgo detector status summary pages, hosted by the Gravitational Wave Open Science Center!

ER13 sensitivity curves LIGO-Virgo sensitivity curves, showing effective gravitational wave strain noise vs. frequency, from December 16, 2018.

December 1, 2018

The LIGO-Virgo Collaboration has released a catalog of events identified in the first and second observing runs! There are a total of four previously unreported binary black hole signals, bringing the total gravitational wave events discovered to date #UpToEleven. Along with new events, there are also updated estimates of the properties of the stellar remnants that produced these signals, including their mass and how far from Earth they collided. You can read the full paper on the arXiv, and download the data from the Gravitational Wave Open Science Center.

GWTC-1 poster The eleven detected GW signals to date. Image credit: S. Ghonge, K. Jani, Georgia Tech.
Facebook Live screenshot
Jess and Shivaraj Kandhasamy fielding Facebook Live questions about LIGO.

November 29, 2018

Jess hosted a Facebook Live session for the LIGO India Education and Public Outreach team while she was visiting the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune. Shivaraj Kandhasamy, a scientist for LIGO India based at IUCAA joined to answer dozens of live questions about gravitational wave inteferometers, recent results, and how to get involved in gravitational wave astrophysics. Watch the full video on Facebook !

Dere kDavis
Derek Davis
TJ Massinger
TJ Massinger

November 21, 2018

Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural (2018) LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration! Derek Davis (Syracuse University) and Dr. T.J. Massinger (LIGO Lab, Caltech) were given this year's award for their work "producing the well-characterized and cleaned dataset used for astrophysical searches during the second observing run of the world-wide gravitational wave detector network." Read more about this year's winners and the award on the LIGO Lab website!

September 8, 2018

The LIGO and Virgo collaborations met September 4-7, 2018 in Maastricht, the Netherlands for a biannual LIGO-Virgo meeting. The meeting was a good opportunity to discuss preparations for the third LIGO-Virgo observing run (O3) and closeout of results from prior observing runs. Read more on the meeting website.

Detchar Leaders LIGO detector characterization group leadership in Maastricht.
Dawn IV
Jess presenting at the Dawn IV meeting in Amsterdam. Photo by B. Lantz.

September 1, 2018

Jess co-chaired the scientific organizing committee for the recent Dawn IV: global strategies for gravitational wave astronomy workshop held August 30-31, 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 100 scientists from around the world attended the workshop, which focused on third-generation (3G) gravitational-wave observatories, their science case, the transition from the current generation of detectors to 3G, and coordinating the 'Einstein Telescope' and 'Cosmic Explorer' proposals. See the full program on the Dawn IV workshop website.

August 15, 2018

Come say hello! Jess's planned travel for the Fall 2018 semester:

Dawn IV
An excerpt of Figure 1 from Pankow et al., showing the (small) effect of glitch mitigation methods on the recovery of the component masses of a simulated BNS merger signal.

August 10, 2018

Mitigation of the instrumental noise transient in gravitational-wave data surrounding GW170817 authored by C. Pankow, K. Chatziioannou, E. Chase, T. Littenberg, M. Evans, J. McIver, et al. is now available on the arXiv! The LIGO and Virgo detectors have a high rate of instrumental noise transients, or glitches in their data. When glitches happen to overlap with astrophysical signals, as was the case for binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817, they must be excised for accurate estimation of the signal's source properties, such as sky localization of the merger, as well as mass and spin. This paper investigates the potential effects on source property estimation of various mitigations methods for glitches overlapping a BNS-type gravitational wave signal. Find the full pre-print on the arXiv.

August 6, 2018

Jess gave an invited lecture on Gravitational waves and multi-messenger astronomy at the 46th SLAC Summer Institute The Standard Model at 50: Successes and Challenges, held July 30-Aug 10, 2018 at SLAC. Find the full series of lectures, including Jess's, online on the SLAC summer institute website.

SSI banner

August 3, 2018

The LIGO Detector Characterization group had a face-to-face meeting at LIGO-Hanford July 30-31, 2018. The group discussed plans for automating noise studies and gravitational wave candidate event validation for the upcoming LIGO-Virgo observing run, O3.

A dozen detector characterizers stayed at the site for a detector characterization noise sprint workshop August 1-3, 2018. The group split into small teams and tackled noise diagnostic projects ranging from investigations of dust contamination in the vacuum chambers to studying long-term correlations between detector performance and seismic trends.

July 14, 2018

Jess attended the Open Questions in Theoretical Astrophysics conference, in Copenhagen July 9-13, 2018. The conference was hosted by the Dark Cosmology Center at the Neils Bohr Institute, and Jess spoke about "Black holes and gravitational waves" in the High-energy astrophysics session. The conference benefitted from excellent representation from traditionally underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy.

Conference attendees Attendees of the Open Questions in Theoretical Astrophysics conference.
Open Data Workshop 1
A screenshot of Jess's lecture for the workshop and web course.

May 15, 2018

The full lectures and code exercises from the first LIGO-Virgo Open Data Workshop are now available as a web course! This web course features both in-depth lectures and step-by-step python notebook tutorials to access and analyze the data. It's a great resource for new students working with LIGO or Virgo, or anyone interested in working with public LIGO/Virgo data. Check it out on LIGO Open Science Center website!

Black Holes
LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

May 10, 2018

Jess will give a physics and astronomy department seminar Making history: the science behind the LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave discoveries' at Cal Poly Ponoma Thursday May 10 at 11:00 in Building 8. Read more about the Cal Poly Ponoma physics and astronomy programs on the CPP website.

April 22, 2018

Jess will contribute to deep machine learning for astronomy as co-investigator of a grant funded by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum. Part of a broader effort to promote partnerships in STEM fields across India and the U.S., the grant will focus on developing machine learning tools for several areas of the time-domain astronomy, including gravitational wave astronomy with LIGO. Read more on the Caltech PMA website!

Comparison of LIGO-Virgo event time series

April 3, 2018

Jess has been elected to the executive committee of the American Physical Society's Division of Gravitational Physics as a member at large. She will serve on the executive committee until 2021. Read more on the APS DGRAV website!

Comparison of LIGO-Virgo event time series
Caltech/MIT/LIGO Laboratory.

March 6, 2018

Jess will present a public seminar Gravitational wave astrophysics: a new era of discovery at Mount Holyoke College on March 6th, 2018 at 4:15 pm. Read more on the Mount Holyoke College website!

LIGO-Livingston data

February 15, 2018

Announcing the LIGO Scientific Collaboration's first LIGO Open Data Workshop! This workshop will give scientists a hands-on introduction to LIGO-Virgo analyses and software and enable them to access and process publicly available gravitational wave data. Jess will give an overview of LIGO data and data quality. The workshop will be held March 25-27, 2018 on the Caltech campus. Read more and register on!

February 1, 2018

Members of the LIGO Detector Characterization group visited the LIGO Livingston observatory January 31 - February 1, 2018 to meet with instrument commissioners and discuss preparations for the third LIGO-Virgo observing run. As part of the meeting, students from Georgia Tech, the University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and Cal State Fullerton were able to tour the site and discuss their work.

DetChar at LIGO-Livingston The Detector Characterization group at LIGO Livingston. Credit: Shrobana Ghosh.

January 1, 2018

Come check out one of Jess's upcoming talks for the Spring 2018 semester!

Science BreakthroughScience magazine.

December 22, 2017

Observation of the "Cosmic Convergence" of two neutron stars by LIGO, Virgo, and astronomer partners around the world was awarded the 2017 Breakthrough of the Year by Science magazine. Read more on!


December 11, 2017

Physics World awards the Physics World 2017 Breakthrough of the Year to the "international team of astronomers and astrophysicists that ushered in a new era of astronomy by making the first ever multimessenger observation involving gravitational waves." Read more on!

December 4, 2017

This December the LIGO Laboratory data analysis group at Caltech celebrated the end of an exciting year. In 2017 the LIGO and Virgo collaborations announced three new black hole collisions as well as the spectacular discovery of gravitational waves from a binary neutron star merger and the first-ever electromagnetic counterpart associated with a gravitational wave signal. Analysis of data from the second observing run is still ongoing. Stay tuned!

CIT DA group The LIGO Laboratory's data analysis science group at Caltech. K. Blackburn.
LSC/LIGO/Caltech/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)LSC/LIGO/Caltech/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet).

November 15, 2017

The LIGO and Virgo collaborations announce the fifth detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes, observed on June 8th 2016. Gizmodo declares: "Black Holes Slamming Together Officially 'Routine'".

NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. SimonnetNSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet.

October 24, 2017

Jess gives a seminar for the Caltech/JPL Association for Gravitational-Wave Research (CaJAGWR) seminar series at Caltech. Watch here.

LIGO/Virgo/T. Dietrich (FSU/AEI); BAM CollaborationLIGO/Virgo/T. Dietrich (FSU/AEI); BAM Collaboration.

October 16, 2017

LIGO and Virgo announce the discovery of gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars! Thanks to astronomer partners around the world, GW170817 was also the first gravitational wave with an associated electromagnetic counterpart observed.

This ground-breaking results, gravitational waves and light in concert, have had profound implications for astrophysics, dense-matter physics, gravitation, and cosmology. The discovery paper is now published in PRL. A full list of companion papers is posted on the LIGO lab website.

October 3, 2017

Congratulations to Rai Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish for winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves"! The gravitational wave community is very proud. See this Popular Science article for a celebration of the contributions of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and others to the momentous achievement of the first direct observation of gravitational waves.

Image credit: Nobel Media/Ill. N. Elmehed Illustrations by the Nobel Media/Ill. N. Elmehed.

Sept 27, 2017

The gravitational wave signal GW170814, originating from two merging black holes, was observed in LIGO and Virgo data on August 14, 2017. This is the first reported observation of a gravitational wave signal in the LIGO and Virgo detectors after Virgo joined the second Advanced LIGO observing run on August 1, 2017. This observation is now published in PRL.

Jess speaking at CERNJess speaking at CERN. Image: E. Davis.

September 1, 2017

The LIGO-Virgo collaboration met at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, August 27 - September 1, 2017. Collaboration members discussed data from the latest observing run (O2) and plans for the upcoming commissioning break at the LIGO and Virgo detectors. Jess gave the LIGO DetChar status talk to the collaboration on behalf of the LIGO Detector Characterization group. You can find a full list of talks in the meeting program.

July 8, 2017

Jess had the great pleasure of taking part in the Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics 2017 on Astrophysics with gravitational wave detections at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark during July-August, 2017.

June 1, 2017

Jess delivered the annual public Mandel Lecture at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz hosted by the University of California Santa Cruz and sponsored by Steve Mandel and Carol Foote.

Image credit: LIGO lab/Caltech

April 28, 2017

Jess gave the Doc Morris and John D. Schopp Memorial Public Lecture at San Diego State University on "LIGO and the Beginning of Gravitational Wave Astronomy”.

TASSGW group photo

March 23, 2017

Jess gave a talk at the Time series analysis for synoptic surveys and gravitational wave astronomy (TASSGW) program at the International Center for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) in Bengaluru, India. The TASSGW program was co-sponsored by ICTS and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) as part of a SAMSI year-long program on Astronomy.

Image credit: LIGO lab/Caltech Photo by TJ Massinger

Feb 24, 2017

Successful LIGO Detector Characterization meeting at LIGO-Livingston.
This past week, members of LIGO's 'DetChar' group convened at the LIGO detector in Livingston, Louisiana to discuss progress in characterizing the Advanced LIGO detectors during their second observing run and plans for the coming years.

Jan 30, 2017

Jess presented work on exploring the impact of Advanced LIGO transient noise on the estimation of astrophysical parameters of binary black hole coalescences at the 2017 APS April meeting in Washington DC.

Dec 19, 2016

Jess visited her alma mater, Mohonasen High School. She met with four classes, over 100 students, to speak about gravitational waves, LIGO, what it's like to be a scientist and how to use critical thinking skills to read news about science. After school she ran a coding workshop aimed at girls on basic html and how to build a website (using CodeAcademy). Read more in the Daily Gazette.

Dec 1, 2016

Jess and Caltech graduate student Max Isi represented LIGO at the Legislative Staffers Caltech Holiday Reception, joining other scientists speaking about Caltech and JPL science efforts to members of the California and LA governments.

Oct 15, 2016

Jess joined other LIGO Scientific Collaboration members at the 2016 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in Long Beach, CA. Jess gave a talk in the Gravitational Wave Astronomy scientific symposium session, which generated strong interest among SACNAS attendees. (All photos by LIGO-Hanford lead operator Corey Gray.)

Sept 22, 2016

Jess gave a talk on "LIGO and the Beginning of Gravitational Wave Astronomy" at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Thursday, September 22, 2016 as part of an ongoing series of seminar free and open to the public sponsored by Brookhaven Science Associates and Brookhaven Women in Science.

2016 Blanco fellows 2016 Blanco fellows Danielle Frostig and Michael Antia and their mentors.

Aug 15, 2016

Congratulations to the 2016 Victor M. Blanco Fellowship recipients Danielle Frostig (Harvard University) and Michael Antia (University of Central Florida)! The Blanco Fellowships are sponsored by the National Society of Hispanic Physicists and awarded to outstanding students in the LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. Michael Antia worked with Jess on noise hunting in Advanced LIGO during the 2016 LIGO SURF program.

Feb 12, 2016

Jess wrote a summary of the GW150914 Detector Characterization companion paper for the general public in CQG+ which explains how we can be sure the GW150914 gravitational wave detection was astrophysical and not the result of terrestrial noise. This summary benefitted greatly from the addition of illustrative comics by the talented Nutsinee Kijbunchoo, a former operator at LIGO-Hanford and current graduate student at ANU. (

Feb 11, 2016 Jess and an NPR reporter at LIGO-Livingston.

Feb 11, 2016

The announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes at the LIGO-Livingston observatory! The site staff and visiting scientists took questions from visitors and the local media after a screening of the press conference in Washington, DC.