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Dr. Maura McLaughlin and Dr. Duncan Lorimer

February 18, 2020
WVU Planetarium and Observatory
*6:00 p.m. and *8:00 p.m.

*Reservations required through Eventbrite.

Co-sponsored by the Nath Lecture

We think of the night sky as ephemeral, with the same stars visible night after night. Over the past couple of decades, thanks to advances in technology, astronomers have been able to look at the Universe on shorter and shorter time scales, finding that "the transient sky" has many sources from a variety of exotic phenomena. In this talk we will focus on radio transients and tell the story of Fast Radio Bursts which we found over a decade ago. While we don't yet know what powers these bursts, this rapidly developing field promises many surprises and applications in the coming decade. Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Lorimer will highlight these, and the role that WVU researchers might play in this endeavor.

Dr. Maura McLaughlin


Maura McLaughlin is the Eberly Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University and Director of the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics, received her PhD from Cornell University, was an NSF Distinguished Research Fellow at the Jodrell Bank Observatory. She studies exotic stars called pulsars using the world's largest radio telescopes.  She is Co-Director of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, which aims to detect gravitational waves using high-precision timing observations of these cosmic clocks. She was the recipient of the Research Corporation’s Cottrell Scholar Award and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. She is also the co-founder of the Pulsar Search Collaboratory program, which has involved over 2000 high-school students in pulsar searches over the past decade.

Dr. Duncan Lorimer


Duncan Lorimer obtained a Ph.D. in 1994 for his contributions to pulsar astronomy from the University of Manchester in the U.K. under the supervision of Professors Andrew Lyne, Dick Manchester and Matthew Bailes. Since then he has held positions at the University of Manchester (Lecturer,1994-1995); the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (Postdoctoral Fellow, 1995-1998); Cornell University (Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998-2001); University of Manchester (Royal Society Research Fellow, 2001-2006) and West Virginia University (Faculty, 2006-present).

While at WVU, Lorimer has served as associate and interim chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Along with his wife and fellow astrophysicist Maura McLaughlin, Lorimer has helped establish the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology. Lorimer’s scholarly achievements have been recognized on several occasions: a Cottrell Scholar Award (2008) from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement and both the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and WVU’s recognition for excellence in teaching (2009, 2010) as well as the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award in the Physical Sciences (2019). 

Among his notable research achievements are his many contributions to our understanding of the population of pulsars and the discovery of Fast Radio Bursts. Since 1994, Lorimer has been a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and in 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. 

In January 2019, Lorimer was named associate dean for research in WVU's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. In this role, he works with faculty, staff and students on a variety of partnerships that aim to keep the Eberly College at the cutting edge as well as expand in new areas of research and scholarship.