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Center for Fundamental Theory Center for Theoretical and Observational Cosmology Center for Particle and Gravitational Astrophysics

The Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos is a multidisciplinary institute of Penn State researchers dedicated to the study of the most fundamental structure and constituents of the Universe.

News and Events

  • Anne-Sylvie Deutsch is the recipient of the Physics and Astronomy for Women Society (PAW) Travel Fund award. She will give a poster presentation at the "Primordial Universe after Planck" conference in Paris, December 15-19, 2014.
  • Congratulations to the IGC members who won awards at the recent inaugural American Physical Society Mid-Atlantic Section (APS-MAS) meeting: Justin Lanfranchi and Lea Hagen (graduate posters) and Beatrice Bonga (graduate talks). The APS-MAS meeting was held at Penn State October 3-5, 2014.
  • Aruna Kesavan served as the co-Chair of the committee that organized the APS-MAS meeting that was held at Penn State October 3-5, 2014. Over 400 participants attended from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington, DC.
  • Niel Brandt, distinguished professor of astronomy and astrophysics and a member of the Center for Particle and Gravitational Astrophysics, has been selected as the Verne M. Willaman Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The appointment is awarded by the Office of the President of the University, based on the recommendation of the Dean of the Eberly College of Science, in recognition of Brandt's national and international reputation for excellence in research and teaching.
  • Abhay Ashtekar was appointed to a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute, Canada. The initial appointment is from July 1, 2014 until December 31, 2017.
  • "General Relativity and Gravitation: A Centennial Perspective," an international conference to celebrate 100 years of general relativity, will be held at Penn State from Sunday, June 7 through Friday, June 12, 2015. Please see the conference website for more information:
  • Kathryne Sparks-Woodle has been named as the APS Woman of the Month for July 2014. Kathryne is involved with the Penn State Graduate Women in Science group as well as the Upward Bound Math/Science mentorship program in particle astrophysics. She also served as chair of the local organizing committee of the APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) which was held at Penn State in January 2014.
  • Oluf Engelund and Elliot Nelson were honorable mentions for the Peter Eklund Award. This award is given to talented graduate students who demonstrate excellence in both research and public speaking.
  • Sarah Shandera has been selected as the Emmy Noether Visiting Fellow by the Perimeter Institute. The fellowship provides an opportunity (with funding) to outstanding early career faculty to pursue their work while visiting Perimeter. More information on the Emmy Noether Visiting Fellowship is available at
  • The Center for Theoretical and Observational Cosmology will host a second Neighborhood Workshop on Astrophysics and Cosmology on April 3-4, 2014. The workshop will bring together cosmologists from CMU, Case Western, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Penn State, Space Telescope Science Institute, Syracuse University, University of Buffalo, University of Pennsylvania and University of Pittsburgh to explore the most interesting and active areas of research. For more information and to register for the workshop, please visit

New Research Limits Big Bang's Output of Gravity Waves

A significant advance in our understanding of the early evolution of the universe has been achieved by a team of scientists associated with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. The team's results appeared in the August 20, 2009 issue of the journal Nature. The gravitational-wave scientists, including Lee Samuel Finn, a Penn State professor of physics and of astronomy and astrophysics, and Benjamin Owen, a Penn State professor of physics, have put new constraints on the details of how the universe looked in its earliest moments. Analysis of the team's data, taken from 2005 to 2007, has set the most stringent limits yet on the amount of gravitational waves that could have come from the Big Bang.

"Our results are a major step toward the detection of primordial gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of space and time - that were created as the universe expanded in its earliest moments," said Finn, who has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since its inception. More....

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