The Optical Society Congratulates OSA Members Stanley Whitcomb, Gabriela González and David Reitze

17 April 2017

The Optical Society Congratulates OSA Members Stanley Whitcomb, Gabriela González and David Reitze on National Academy of Sciences Recognition

WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA), the leading global professional association in optics and photonics, applauds OSA members Stanley Whitcomb, Gabriela González and David Reitze on their recogntion by The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for their contributions to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. Dr. Whitcomb will be awarded the Henry Draper Medal and Dr. González and Dr. Reitze will be awarded the NAS Award for Scientific Discovery during an awards ceremony on 30 April.

“The NAS awards for these three members and their work at LIGO recognizes their significant impact and contribution to scientific research.” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society. “On behalf of The Optical Society, I would like to congratulate Dr. Whitcomb, Dr. González and Dr. Reitze on this prestigious recognition. All three have been guiding forces at LIGO, and even with the incredible discoveries they have made thus far, it is only the beginning for what we can expect from their work.”

The Henry Draper Medal is awarded every four years and honors a recent, original investigation in astronomical physics, of importance and benefit to science to merit such recognition. First awarded in 1886, past winners include optics pioneers such as George Ellery Hale, A.A. Michelson, Robert W. Wood and Charles E. Mees.

The NAS Award for Scientific Discovery is presented every two years to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research, achieved within the previous five years, that is expected to have a significant impact on one or more of the following fields: astronomy, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, materials science, or physics. The awards ceremony, happening on Sunday, 30 April at 14:00 EDT, will be available to watch online.

About Dr. Stanley Whitcomb
Stanley Whitcomb is an OSA Fellow and has been the with LIGO project since 1980 when he first participated in the experimental work that helped proved the feasibility the project. He led a team that designed and commissioned the first generation full-scale LIGO detectors. Dr. Whitcomb has been involved with nearly every aspect of the work at LIGO and helped train the team of scientists and engineers that designed and built the Advanced LIGO detectors that made the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. He currently serves as the Chief Scientist of the LIGO Laboratory working out of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

About Dr. Gabriela González
Gabriela González has been involved with the LIGO project since 1997. She is one of the founding members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), an international group of more than 1,000 scientists seeking to use the detection of gravitational waves as a tool for astronomical discovery and explore the fundamental physics of gravity and was elected as spokesperson for the group in 2011. She has worked with the LIGO Livingston Observatory since 2001 and is involved in the calibration of the LIGO detectors and analyzing the data collected. She is an OSA member and currently a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University.

About Dr. David Reitze
David Reitze is the Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech and led the project during the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. He is the former spokesperson for LSC and has worked in the area of experimental gravitational wave detection for over 20 years. As Executive Director at LIGO, he has led the expansion efforts of the project, including a proposed site in India. In addition to his position with LIGO, Reitze is a Professor of Physics and the University of Florida and an OSA fellow.  
About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders 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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