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CIERA Faculty member successfully launches new conference on Intermediate-Mass Black Holes

Dr. Giacomo Fragione, CIERA Researcher and Research Assistant Professor recently organized CIERA’s first conference centered around intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). The Intermediate-Mass Black Holes: New Science from Stellar Evolution to Cosmology conference took place Saturday, April 30, 2022 through Tuesday May 3, 2022 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This research conference, focused on  analyzing the various observational and theoretical aspects of intermediate-mass black holes, and their unique role in: (1) Cosmology and galaxy evolution; (2) Formation of gravitational wave sources; (3) Accretion, tidal disruption events, and high-energy phenomena. The meeting served as a focal point for researchers working on intermediate-mass black holes on all scales, to connect theorists and observers, and to link together and share knowledge and tools between groups working on similar questions.

When asked what role he played and what inspired the IMBH Conference, Giacomo stated, “I was the person who had the idea of organizing this conference, and I was immediately supported by a great Scientific Organizing Committee. I wanted to organize a conference on IMBHs since this is the subfamily of black holes that usually people pay little attention to. However, as we discussed during the conference, they are fundamental pieces in our understanding of the Universe.” The decision to host the conference in Puerto Rico was an obvious choice as well according to Giacomo. He shared, “Puerto Rico is a great and wonderful island. Besides its beauty, there is a center of theoretical physics COFI, which helped us with the local organization (Mayda and Luly).”

Dr. Mayda Velasco speaking at IMBH Conference 2022 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The preparation for this conference was underway at a time when there was still much uncertainty about pandemic conditions. In spite of those challenges Dr. Fragione and the CIERA team still believed this conference was one that would benefit the astrophysics and astronomy community and therefore worked diligently to curate this event, while exercising precaution as much as possible. Giacomo shared, “The experience was great, and it was my first time organizing a big international conference in person (I organized a big international conference last year with 200 people worldwide, which however was virtual). Despite the limitations because of the pandemic, all the hard work finally paid off. At the end realizing that we had such a great week of science and seeing the happiness on people’s faces was the best reward for all my efforts and time spent organizing the conference.”

IMBH Conference Banquet Dinner/Reception

Photo: IMBH Conference Attendees

Photo: IMBH Conference Attendees

With over 80 attendees from 14 countries represented at this conference including several CIERA faculty, postdocs, and graduate students there is much anticipation for the next conference. “The conference was so successful that people have been asking me when I will organize the next! I told them that will happen soon!”, said Giacomo.

The IMBH conference was held at the Cuartel de Ballajá in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This historic venue located in front of Castillo San Felipe del Morro was built from 1854 to 1864 in order to house the Spanish and Puerto Rican regiments in Old San Juan. Today this beautiful structure houses a dance school, music school, the Museo de las Américas, the Puerto Rico Academy of the Spanish Language, and the State Office of Historic Conservation. CIERA partnered with Dr. Mayda Velasco, the University of Puerto Rico and the COFI Institute to host this epic conference.

By Darvell Jones