Professor Sheila Rowan
Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, School of Physics and Astronomy
At the Institute Professor Rowan leads a group of around 70 researchers developing interferometric detectors and signal analysis methods to study gravitational waves both on the ground and from space. She currently chairs the Gravitational Wave International Committee, focussed on co-ordinating and shaping the global strategic landscape of gravitational wave research.
Professor Rowan's research is targeted at developing optical materials for use in gravitational wave detectors. Her recent work has been a crucial part of the Advanced LIGO upgrades, carried out between 2010 and 2015, that contributed to one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of this century: the first detection of gravitational waves announced in February 2016.
This work resulted in a share of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her and the members of her team in Glasgow. She was awarded the 2016 Hoyle Medal and Prize of the UK Institute of Physics, the President's Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and with the LIGO team shared in the 2017 Bruno Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society, amongst other international awards.
In 2016, Professor Rowan was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland. She provides a scientific perspective on Scottish Government policy and acts as an advocate for the benefits of science to society.