San Jose State Astronomy and Physics Associate Professor Peter Beyersdorf had a long association with two of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics winners and their Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Science Collaboration. Beyersdorf was a member of the LIGO organization from its inception until 2014, first as a graduate student at Stanford, then as a post-doctorate at the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan, and then as a faculty member at SJSU.
“During my 14 years working on gravitational wave detection, I primarily developed and tested small-scale prototypes of the large interferometer configurations used in the detectors that recently observed gravitational waves for the first time,” he said, noting that his graduate thesis, “The Sagnac Interferometer for gravitational wave detection,” was the first comprehensive analysis of an interferometer configuration first proposed by Rai Weiss, one of this year’s Nobel Laureates. Barry Barish, another of this year’s Laureates, founded LIGO in 1997.
Beyersdorf has authored or co-authored 76 journal articles related to gravitational wave detection. He has supervised research for more than a dozen students, including two SJSU students, Adnan Alam and Mark Cordier, who worked at the LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory in Hanford, Wash.