A Mohonasen alumna is making waves in the field of physics and looking forward to sharing her discoveries with high school science students when they return to school.
Jess McIver graduated from Mohonasen High School in 2005 and has served as a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, an international team of scientists dedicated to the search for gravitational waves, since 2007. She first contributed to the project as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, where she studied noise sources for the initial LIGO detectors.
McIver currently works as a postdoctoral scholar in experimental physics at Caltech in Pasadena, California. She earned her doctorate in physics from the University of Massachusetts last May after defending her dissertation on the impact of terrestrial noise on the ability to analyze data on gravitational wave signals. Combining her experience and education, she serves as the leader of an international team of scientists charged with analyzing LIGO detectors to improve the effectiveness of their astrophysical work.
She served as the lead author of a paper co-created by more than 1,000 scientists from around the world that presents detailed evidence supporting that the important discovery, confirming the last prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, was indeed of astrophysical origin.
This long-awaited discovery attracted national media attention after scientists on Feb. 11 announced they successfully recorded the sound of two black holes colliding. McIver was recently interviewed at the LIGO Livingston observatory about the discovery for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition show.
Students in Mohonasen’s physics and earth science honors classes watched last week’s press conference about the discovery to learn more about the theory of relativity and gravitational waves. After winter break, the students will have the opportunity to speak with McIver over Skype to learn more about the discovery and her post-graduation academic and career path.
NY Times Article: “Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory”