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CITA Rejoins the LIGO Scientific Collaboration

Faculty and Postdocs join to form CITA’s membership to this esteemed collaboration

Collaboration and discovery go hand in hand at the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). Working with the Virgo and KAGRA observatories – together forming the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) Collaboration –, the group represents 4 observatories, 19 countries, 127 institutions, and over 1400 researchers. This scale is the key to the fundamental goal of the collaboration: “developing the emerging field of gravitational wave (GW) science as a tool of astronomical discovery.”

CITA was previously a member of the LSC, spearheaded by Drs. Kipp Cannon (University of Tokyo, formerly CITA) and Chad Hanna (Penn State, formerly PI). Many CITAzens have been involved with LSC over the years. Our commitment to the development of early career researchers as well as our collaborative environment make us a natural fit for the collaboration. We are excited to be rejoining LSV at a moment of exponential growth in the field of GW science.

The Perimeter Institute, with whom we enjoy close ties, has also rejoined the LSC, which, according to Dr. Reed Essick (CITA), means “Southern Ontario has pretty rapidly established itself as a powerhouse for LSC science.”

“Suddenly, with the first binary neutron star merger discovery, this theoretical work became a concrete reality.”

– Phil Landry


CITA’s membership is led by Drs. Reed Essick and Maya Fishbach, two of our new faculty members, alongside Dr. Phil Landry, CITA Postdoctoral Fellow. Their combined experience positions CITA as “a center for gravitational-wave astronomy in Canada,” according to Landry.

Landry joined the collaboration in 2018 and quickly found connections between observational data and his research. Since becoming a member, he has expanded the scope of his research, worked at the cutting edge of the field, and taken on leadership by chairing the “Extreme Matter R&D Working Group.”

“The whole future of the field seemed like it was still in front of me.”

– Reed Essick


For Essick, CITA’s LIGO membership gives us the opportunity to practice “the best science that can be done today” and connects us directly into the field of GW science.

Essick joined the LSC in 2011, before the first detection. “The whole future of the field seemed like it was still in front of me,” says Essick. Since joining, he has taken part in several ground-breaking discoveries, one of which led to the 2017 Nobel Prize. While the early days of the collaboration were exciting, Essick says that “now there’s arguably even more opportunity since the field has grown so much.”

This growth is something that Fishbach has experienced firsthand. She joined LIGO in 2016, shortly after the first detection of gravitational waves. Membership to the collaboration has given her access to the newest data as well as the brightest minds in GW science. Fishbach now co-chairs the “Rates & Populations Working Group,” who are tasked with the astrophysical interpretations of merging black hole and neutron star populations.

“…the most rewarding aspect is the people, and getting to interact, discuss and closely collaborate with so many experts.”

– Maya Fishbach

According to Fishbach, there are a few other relatively new LSC groups in Canada, and a growing community of scientists studying black holes, stellar explosions, and other related phenomena. She’s looking forward to collaborating with researchers at the University of Toronto and the national CITA community.

And what will this membership do for CITA? Fishbach hopes that it will attract talented students and postdocs working on GW astronomy and allow us to contribute to the LSC in new and creative ways. Reed agrees with the impact that our membership will have on researchers at CITA, viewing LIGO as another way to plug directly into GW science.

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