Dr. Caitlin Witt, the CIERA-Adler Postdoctoral Fellow, was named one of three finalists for the American Physical Society’s Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin Doctoral Dissertation Award in Astrophysics. Since 2013, this prize has recognized doctoral theses in research in astrophysics, and encouraged effective written and oral presentation of research results.
“I was really thrilled to be named a finalist for the thesis award!” said Dr. Witt. “A lot of my thesis work has been in support of a large collaboration, so it felt great to see the broader community recognizing my individual contributions. Plus, the APS’s Division of Astrophysics (DAP) organized a session where we were celebrating the three finalists, rather than a real competition, so it was great to have the opportunity to present my work in a bigger venue while also meeting some new friends!”
Witt’s thesis is titled “Bayesian Methods for Multi-Messenger Analysis of Supermassive Black Hole Binaries: Pulsars and Quasars and Gravitational Waves, Oh My!”.
“I made new ways to combine two types of data (light and gravitational waves) to learn more about pairs of monster black holes than we ever could before,” explained Witt. “In addition to leading my gravitational-wave collaboration, NANOGrav, through our first full multi-messenger search, my thesis work also placed some of our best limits on gravitational waves from these types of black hole binaries, and explored new ways to find them in surveys with traditional telescopes.”