Rana Adhikari Wins 2005 LIGO Thesis Prize


  2005 PhD Thesis Award recipient, Rana Adhikari


Rana Adhikari has been announced winner of the 2005 LIGO Thesis prize. Marking the debut appearance of this new biannual award, Rana's outstanding work vied with six other nominated theses in a competition conspicuous for the high-quality of each of the submissions.

The prize selection committee, comprised of Bill Hamilton, Joe Romano, and Vern Sandberg (chair) worked carefully to analyze each of the seven theses and weigh their various merits. It was a "strong competition," wrote Sandberg, The "field of gravity wave research is fortunate to have so many talented and creative people entering it."

Peter Saulson, Spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, agreed. "I was very impressed with the amount and variety of first-rate work represented by the nominated theses," he wrote. "We could pick only one winner... I know we will all be happy to congratulate Rana for this well-deserved recognition."

Formal announcement and presentation of the award were made during the August 2005 LSC Meeting at the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Washington state. The rewards given to the prize winner include a certificate, a check for $1500, and an invitation to speak at the LSC plenary session.

"Rana's talk at the award presentation was vintage Rana: humorous and very wise at the same time," said Saulson. "We are very lucky to have him on our team."

Rana Adhikari's journey with LIGO began at the University of Florida (UF), where he joined the UF-LIGO group in its early formation. There he did important work in the design and specification of the input optics for initial LIGO, in particular resolving details of the mode-matching telescope. He remained with the group for about three years before graduating and going on to MIT.

"We were delighted when Rana decided to continue in LIGO as a graduate student at MIT," offered UF Professors David Reitze and David Tanner, adding, "We at Florida are very pleased and proud that Rana was recognized with this prize."

The assets and exceptional talent Rana contributes to the LIGO project were further confirmed by MIT Professor Rainer Weiss.

"He taught us how to make the interferometers sing and did this with wit and good humor coupled to precision and clear thinking," Weiss said. "He started as a student in our lab not too long ago and, now, I am working for him."

The newly inaugurated LIGO Thesis Prize is to be awarded every two years. It was created to recognize preeminent Ph.D. theses based on LIGO research carried out either within the LIGO Laboratory or the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Theses written on any aspect of gravitational-wave research are eligible, and are judged on 1) originality and creativity of the research, 2) importance to the field of gravitational waves and gravitational-wave detection, broadly interpreted, and 3) clarity of presentation. The next LIGO Thesis Prize will be awarded in 2007, and additional eligibility details can be found at the link below.


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