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Cardiff graduate awarded prestigious thesis prize

Thursday 16th April 2015

Dr Patricia Schmidt on campus at the California Institute of Technology

Cardiff graduate Dr. Patricia Schmidt has been awarded the 2015 IOP Gravitational Physics Thesis Prize for her thesis, "Studying and Modelling the Complete Gravitational-Wave Signal from Precessing Black Hole Binaries".

Patricia completed her PhD in 2014, before taking up a postdoctoral research position at the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Schmidt's work was devoted to understanding the complicated dynamics and gravitational-wave signatures of binary systems of black holes that spin in arbitrary ways, leading to elaborate precession effects. At the beginning of her PhD, the modelling of precessing-black-hole binaries was considered one of the largest theoretical challenges in the field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

Her PhD work has paved the way for colleagues in the Gravitational Physics group to untangle these systems, and has lead, along with follow-up work pursued at Cardiff and by several other International groups, to the first complete models of generic black-hole-binary waveforms.

The prize includes a £500 award, and Dr. Schmidt will speak on her work in a special session of the annual BritGrav conference, to be held in Birmingham on 20th-21st April 2015.

Patricia's supervisor Dr Mark Hannam, said: "This is an impressive piece of work. Its already playing an important role in the search for gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein one hundred years ago."

For more information on the Gravitational Physics group, visit the research webpages here.