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Northwestern’s Astronomy Research Center

Over the past decade, astronomy research and education at Northwestern University has undergone an incredible transformation. The Center for Interdisciplinary Education & Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) leads in astrophysics theory, observation, and data science, but we’re so much more! We train and empower the next generation of scientists, we’re growing our programs in K-12 STEM education, and we cultivate the public’s enthusiasm for astronomy with our outreach initiatives.


CIERA helps answer the most exciting mysteries in astrophysics by leading research in theoretical, computational, and observational astronomy, and in developing cutting-edge instruments.

Research Stories
data science

Data Science

Interdisciplinary collaboration in high performance computing, machine learning, and big data connects CIERA’s work in astronomy to other fields: engineering, statistics, planetary science and more.

Data Science Stories
STEM Education & Outreach

STEM Education & Outreach

CIERA’s programs support teachers & classrooms, providing students from middle school to college with skills in data analysis & research, and our popular public events enrich communities.

Education & Outreach Stories
Next Generation

Developing the Next Generation

Our researchers focus on preparing the next generation of scientists to be leaders in their field, empowering women & minorities, and achieving at all levels.

Leadership Stories

Vicky Kalogera

Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor, Director of CIERA

Co-founder and current director of our center, Vicky Kalogera is the lead astrophysicist in the collaboration that first detected gravitational waves in 2015. An expert in the astrophysics of black holes and neutron stars, Kalogera was elected a member of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2018. She leads a group of over 20 researchers and students.

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Shane Larson

Research Associate Professor, Associate Director of CIERA

Shane Larson works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy. He is an award-winning teacher and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

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Kari Frank

Director of Operations of CIERA, Research Assistant Professor

In her research role, Kari Frank uses X-ray telescopes to study hot, messy objects like supernova remnants and galaxy clusters. In her administrative role, she manages the daily operations of CIERA, working with graduate students, postdocs, and faculty researchers.

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CIERA by the Numbers

$54.4M External Grants
24 Core Faculty
15 Interdisciplinary Affiliate and Associate Faculty
200 Years Postdoctoral Research Supported
63,600+ Attendees at CIERA Public Events
7000+ K-12 Students Reached

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