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07 September 2016

Advanced LIGO Engineering Team Receives OSA’s 2016 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

07 September 2016

Advanced LIGO Engineering Team Receives OSA’s 2016 Paul F. Forman
Team Engineering Excellence Award

Overcoming a daunting list of engineering challenges; LIGO team connected optical,
electrical and mechanical elements of advanced interferometry to find engineering success at the limits of human endeavor

WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that the Advanced LIGO Engineering Team is the winner of the 2016 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. The discovery, which confirms Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, is among the most significant in the last century of physics and was made possible by photonics technology, including the ultra-precise laser-based interferometers used to measure gravitational waves. The team will receive the award during the plenary session at OSA’s Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) / Laser Science (LS), which takes place in Rochester, New York, USA on 19 October 2016. Dennis Coyne and GariLynn Billingsley, California Institute of Technology, and Stuart Aston and  Richard McCarthy, LIGO Livingston Observatory, will be accepting the award at FiO/LS.
“For years, many members of The Optical Society have been actively researching this phenomenon of nature,” said Alan Willner, 2016 President of The Optical Society. “We heartily congratulate the LIGO Engineering Team on this remarkable achievement of gravitational wave astronomy. LIGO is an absolutely monumental research effort. Technical advances wrought by Advanced LIGO’s talented team of engineers who produced the unique ‘blend of optical, mechanical, electrical and systems engineering’ made possible this stunning achievement.”

Dennis Coyne, the Advanced LIGO Chief Engineer, California Institute of Technology, said, “After 20 years of dedicated effort, LIGO's direct detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger is incredibly rewarding and exciting! This enormous discovery was only possible due to the visionary support of the National Science Foundation and the incredibly hard work of an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers. I am deeply grateful and proud to have played a part for the launch of this new field of observational cosmology.”

James C. Bergquist, Fellow of The Optical Society and The National Academy of Sciences, said, “I still smile whenever I think of the emotional ecstasy that must have swept over the entire LIGO Team, but especially her engineers, when they realized that, in spite of the rather noisy platform afforded by spaceship earth, their exquisitely sensitive interferometers, each a technical masterpiece and easily the most sensitive metrological instruments ever built, had worked flawlessly to finally reveal direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves.”
Gravitational waves went from a whisper to a shout when detected in October 2015. Using advanced optics-based systems, the research team was able to measure gravitational waves on Earth, enabling them to pinpoint the precise moments they were produced.  Unlike light, gravitational waves are not diminished by interstellar dust as they propagate through space. By detecting them, the research team is able to peer into the most energetic events of the universe and explore the cosmos in a completely new way. The project is a significant example of the best in international innovation and the team's continued research with Advanced LIGO will continue to impact the physical sciences for years to come.
The Advanced LIGO Engineering Team      
LIGO Laboratory—Caltech

  • Ben Abbott, Electronics engineer
  • Rich Abbott, Lead electronics engineer
  • Robert Anderson, Lead QA/manufacturing engineer
  • Lisa Austin, Mechanical engineer
  • GariLynn Billingsley, Lead optical engineer
  • Rolf Bork, Lead software engineer
  • Dennis Coyne, Chief engineer
  • Kate Gushwa, Mechanical engineer
  • Jay Heefner, Lead electronics engineer
  • Alastair Heptonstall, Lead laser engineer
  • Alex Ivanov, Real time software engineer
  • Mindy Jacobson, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Eric James, Systems engineer
  • Jeff Lewis, QA/manufacturing engineer
  • Mohana Mageswaran, Electrical engineer
  • Ken Mailand, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Margot Phelps, Optical engineer
  • Eduardo Sanchez, Design engineer
  • Zhenhua Shao, Electronics engineer
  • Michael Smith, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Calum Torrie, Deputy Chief engineer
  • Liyuan Zhang, Optical engineer

LIGO Laboratory—MIT

  • Sam Barnum, Mechanical engineer
  • Sebastien Biscans, Mechanical engineer
  • Stephany Foley, Mechanical engineer
  • Michael Hillard, Mechanical engineer
  • Ken Mason, Lead mechanical engineer
  • Fabrice Matichard, Lead mechanical engineer
  • Rich Mittleman, Controls engineer
  • Andy Stein, Mechanical engineer

LIGO Laboratory—LIGO Hanford Observatory

  • Dave Barker, Lead computer systems engineer
  • Jeff Bartlett, Operations Specialist
  • Jim Batch, Software engineer
  • Filiberto Clara, Electrical engineer
  • Doug Cook, Optical engineer
  • Joe DeRenzis, Vacuum Technician
  • Jodi Fauver, Mechanical Technician
  • Corey Gray, mechanical engineer
  • Jonathan Hanks, Software engineer
  • Peter King, Lead laser engineer
  • Jeff Kissel, Lead controls engineer
  • Vincent Lhuillier, Controls engineer
  • Richard McCarthy Lead electrical engineer
  • Edmond Merilh, Electronics assembly and test engineer
  • Gerardo Moreno, Assembly, test, and QA engineer
  • Jason Oberling, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Hugh Radkins, Lead servo‐mechanical installation/test engineer
  • Cyrus Reed, Software engineer
  • Mitchell Robinson, Mechanical Technician
  • Kyle Ryan, Vacuum engineer
  • Travis Sadecki, Operations Specialist
  • Paul Schwinberg, Electrical engineer
  • Aaron Sevigny, Electrical engineer
  • Thomas J. Shaffer, Operations Specialist
  • Patrick Thomas, Software Engineer
  • Cheryl Vorvick, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Jim Warner, Installation and test engineer
  • Betsy Weaver, Lead opto‐mechanical installation/test engineer
  • John Worden, Lead Operations engineer

LIGO Laboratory—LIGO Livingston Observatory

  • Carl Adams, Lead electronics engineer
  • Stuart Aston, Opto-mechanical engineer
  • Derek Bridges, Assembly and test engineer
  • Jeremy Birch, Operations Specialist
  • Mike Fyfe, Electro-optical Technician
  • Dwayne Giardina, Software engineer
  • Chris Guido, Optical Engineer
  • Joe Hanson, Operations Specialist
  • David Kinzel, Electronics engineer
  • Adrien LeRoux, Integration and testing engineer
  • Scott McCormick, Vacuum engineer
  • Mike Meyer, Mechanical engineer
  • Adam Mullavey, Systems engineer
  • David Nolting, Safety Engineer
  • Richard Oram, Lead Operations Engineer
  • Harry Overmier, Vacuum technician
  • Arnaud Pele, Integration and testing engineer
  • Celine Ramet, Lead mechanical engineer
  • Janeen Romie, Lead mechanical engineer
  • Danny Sellers, Operations Specialist
  • Bryan Smith, Mechanical Technician
  • Keith Thorne, Lead computer systems engineer
  • Gary Traylor, Lead assembly/installation engineer
  • Michael Vargas, SEI assembly engineer

Albert Einstein Institute and Laser Zentrum Hannover

  • Maik Frede, Electro‐optics engineer
  • Gerrit Kuehn, Computer systems engineer
  • Michaela Pickenpack, Electro‐optics engineer
  • Oliver Puncken, Electro‐optics engineer
  • Andreas Weidner, Electronics engineer
  • Lutz Winkelmann, Opto‐mechanical engineer

Glasgow University

  • Angus Bell, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Russell Jones, Opto‐mechanical engineer

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

  • Justin Greenhalgh, Lead mechanical engineer
  • Joe O'Dell, Mechanical engineer
  • Ian Wilmut, Mechanical engineer

Stanford University

  • Charles Celerier, Software engineer
  • Dan Clark, Mechanical engineer
  • Dan DeBra, System design engineer
  • Corwin Hardham, Mechanical engineer
  • Brian Lantz, Lead system and controls engineer
  • Hugo Paris, Controls engineer
  • Brett Shapiro, Controls and modeling engineer

University of Florida

  • Muzamil Arain, Optical engineer
  • Joe Gleason, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Matthew Heintze, Opto‐mechanical engineer
  • Rodica Martin, Optical engineer
  • Luke Williams, Opto‐mechanical engineer

The Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award was established by The Optical Society in 1989 and has since been bestowed on dozens of outstanding researchers and engineers. Named in remembrance of Paul F. Forman, who, among many other accomplishments, effectively raised the visibility of optical engineering. This team award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process, software and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and furthering public appreciation of optical engineering. For more information on the award or the nomination process, visit OSA Awards.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

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