My primary research interest is the detection of gravitational waves and how those detections allow us to observe the universe in an entirely new way. Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime produced by the collisions of black holes or neutron stars. I am part of an international collaboration called the LIGO project (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, http://www.ligo.org/). LIGO's goal is to observe the universe with gravitational waves using a network of laser interferometers, each consisting of a giant 4-km-long L-shaped device. On September 14, 2015 LIGO achieved this goal with the first direct detection of gravitational waves from a pair of colliding black holes. This event--one of the most significant physics discoveries of the past 50 years--has given birth to the field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Several more detections followed, including the first binary neutron star collision observed on August 17, 2017. My research focuses on improving the models that LIGO and other gravitational-wave detectors use to analyze their signals. I am especially interested in how gravitational-wave observations will probe the interiors of neutron stars and test our understanding of Einstein’s description of gravity. My research at Montclair State has been supported by NSF RUI and CAREER grants.
I also work on education and public outreach related to LIGO. In addition to giving public lectures and organizing exhibits at science or astronomy exhibitions, I have developed--along with Montclair State students--a website to explore the analogy between gravitational waves and sound. The detection of gravitational-wave signals now allows us to "listen" to the universe. Explore this further at our site: http://www.soundsofspacetime.org .
My teaching at Montclair State focuses on courses that support the astronomy concentration. Along with the calculus-based intro physics courses (PHYS 191/192), I regularly teach Introductory Astronomy (PHYS 280), Astrophysics (PHYS 480), and General Relativity (PHYS 385, MATH 385/585). If you enjoy science and math, I encourage you to consider a major or minor in Physics. If you are considering a teaching career, consider the physics or physical science teaching pathways that our department offers. Come to my office hours if you'd like to discuss any of these options.
Originally from Bergen County, I received my undergraduate degree from Caltech and graduate degrees from Cornell. I then held postdoctoral positions at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (at UCSB), the NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Center for Gravitation and Cosmology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
I have been a visiting scholar at Caltech's Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics (http://burkeinstitute.caltech.edu/people/Visitors) and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (http://www.kitp.ucsb.edu/for-scientists/fellowships/kitp-scholars/scholars-to-date).
Theoretical astrophysics, especially general relativity, compact objects (neutron stars, black holes), and gravitational-wave astronomy.