Goal: Establish Northwestern among the leaders in astronomy research internationally
Over the past decade, astrophysics research and education at Northwestern University has undergone an impressive transformation. Initially driven by a few key faculty, the advancements have led to award-winning discoveries, to a new understanding of our cosmos; Northwestern now successfully competes with the top research universities in the nation to attract the best young researchers. These successes are at the core of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), a University-level research center founded in 2007 with the goal of firmly establishing Northwestern among the leaders in astronomy research internationally.
Among all astronomy research centers at top universities, CIERA has a unique emphasis on interdisciplinary connections, such as high-performance computing, applied math, engineering and technology development. Through such innovative collaborations, CIERA researchers advance our knowledge across a wide range of topics, from Earth-like planets discovered outside our solar system and dense groups of stars that challenge our simulation capabilities to Einstein’s elusive gravitational waves and the development of advanced X-ray mirrors for space-based telescopes. Moreover, among all science disciplines, astronomy has a unique appeal to students, capturing their imagination, with the strong potential of attracting them to studies of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines and strengthening the country’s pipeline for a competitive, 21st-century workforce.
Founding Director: Vicky Kalogera
CIERA’s founding director, Vicky Kalogera, is a distinguished professor at Northwestern. Kalogera is internationally known and honored for her research in the formation and evolution of exotic cosmic objects like black holes and neutron stars. Part of her work focuses on a long-anticipated breakthrough in astrophysics, the opening of a new window onto the cosmos with the discovery of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein's theory. Under her leadership CIERA has exceeded initial expectations for growth and impact. Her vision for CIERA is aligned in multiple ways with NorthWEstern WILL (the university’s current strategic plan); overall, her goal for CIERA’s and Northwestern’s role in the nation’s research and education scene is well on the way to being realized. Read more about CIERA and the WE WILL campaign.