LIGO’s SURF Students Look for the Perfect Wave (+)

LIGO SURF students, class of 2015, in the control room at the LIGO facility in Livingston, Louisiana. The large monitor over their heads displays incoming data in real time. Credit: LIGO/LLO/Caltech

Above, LIGO SURF students, class of 2015, in the control room at the LIGO facility in Livingston, Louisiana. The large monitor over their heads displays incoming data in real time. Credit: LIGO/LLO/Caltech

As noted in our Fall 2015 Random Walk article, “An Advanced Look,” Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum spent a few hours in May touring the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Washington.

Over the following summer, 27 students in Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program got an even more intimate look at LIGO: they became full partners in one of the biggest, most complex physics experiments ever. Their contributions ranged from creating hardware and software for LIGO’s current upgrade to helping design the next generation of upgrades.

Thanks to SURF, students have been part of LIGO since the 1990s—more than 350 of them. Some have gone on to careers with LIGO, and some are now mentoring students themselves.

Read more about LIGO and what this year’s SURFers got up to.