The 2014 AIP Women in Physics Lecture Series


Presented by Professor Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow

Start Date

21st Oct 2014 8:00pm

End Date

21st Oct 2014 9:00pm


Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

The search for gravitational waves -
Ripples from the dark side of the Universe

Gravitational Waves are amongst the most elusive signals from our Universe reaching the earth – ‘ripples in the curvature of space-time’. The information carried by these signals will give us new insight into the hearts of some of the most violent events in the Cosmos – from black holes to the beginning of the Universe. A global network of gravitational wave detectors is in now reaching the final stages of construction, with first data expected in 2015. The nature of gravitational waves, how the detectors work and what the data from the detectors can tell us about the Universe we inhabit will be discussed.  

Sheila Rowan is an experimental physicist, and since 2009, Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research in the School of Physics and Astronomy in the University of Glasgow in the UK. She received her BSc (1991) and PhD (1995) in the field of gravitational wave instrumentation from the University of Glasgow. After spending time as a visiting postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University (1995) she returned to a postdoctoral position at Glasgow (1995-98) then took up a split position as a Postdoctoral Fellow, then  Research Associate, between the Universities of Glasgow and the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory at Stanford University (1998-2003). She returned to Glasgow to the position of Reader in 2003, becoming Professor of Experimental Physics in 2006. The research of her Institute, centres on developments relevant to the international network of gravitational  wave detectors including the UK-German GEO600 detector, the US LIGO detector project the French-Italian Virgo detector project and the Japanese detector KAGRA, as well as studies aimed at a proposed space-based gravitational wave detector. Her personal research currently includes studies of the thermomechanical properties of the materials for the mirror substrates and suspensions of these interferometric detectors and their optical coatings, along with broader applications in precision measurement science. She was awarded a Leverhulme Prize for Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2005, appointed to Fellowship of the UK Institute of Physics in 2006, elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008, was the recipient of a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2010 and awarded Fellowship of the American Physical Society in 2012. She was made an MBE for services to science in the Queen's Birthday Hours list in 2011 and has published more than 150 articles in refereed journals.

Click here to download flyer (PDF 224KB)

The Australian Institute of Physics International Women in Physics Lecture Series was instituted to celebrate the contribution of women to advances in physics. Under this scheme, a woman who has made a significant contribution in a field of physics will give a series of lectures around Australia, including a Public Lecture arranged by each participating branch of the AIP. The Lecture will be of interest to a nonspecialist physics audience and is expected to increase awareness among students and their families of the possibilities offered by continuing to study physics.

For more information please contact