Institute of Physics honour for Prof Sheila Rowan

Issued: Mon, 27 Aug 2018 12:12:00 BST

Professor Sheila Rowan, director of the University’s Institute for Gravitational Research, has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Image of Professor Sheila RowanHonorary Fellowships are the highest honour the Institute confers and are bestowed upon individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the field of physics or the work of the Institute.

Professor Rowan has been made an Honorary Fellow in recognition of her sustained, innovative and key contributions towards the discovery of gravitational radiation over the last 27 years.

While working between Glasgow and Stanford Universities her work has, with colleagues, contributed to a significant improvement in the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and other detectors, in part due to a new method of suspending the detector mirrors using fused silica fibres developed by Professor Rowan and colleagues. These suspensions were critical in enabling the discovery of gravitational radiation by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration, which was announced in 2016.

As one of the leading scientists of the LIGO collaboration she serves on its crucial Detection Committee, reviewing and checking evidence for whether a result is real or not – and she chairs the Gravitational Wave International Committee of project directors, which is steering the future of gravitational wave astronomy worldwide.

The Institute of Physics will officially confer the honour on Professor Rowan at the Institute’s Awards Dinner in November.

The IOP award is the latest in a string of honours for Professor Rowan, including an Royal Society Fellowship, an honorary degree from Robert Gordon University, and WIRED Magazine’s Scientific Breakthrough prize.