Gravitational wave scientist ‘delighted’ with New Year Honour

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·2-min read

A scientist who helped first detect gravitational waves has said she is “delighted” to be recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Professor Sheila Rowan, director of the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and chief scientific adviser for Scotland, is made a CBE for services to science.

Prof Rowan’s research is targeted at developing optical materials for use in gravitational wave detectors.

Her recent work has been a “crucial part” of the Advanced Laser Interferometry Gravitational-wave Observatory (Ligo) upgrades, carried out between 2010 and 2015, that contributed to one of the “most significant scientific breakthroughs of this century”, the first detection of gravitational waves announced in February 2016, according to her biography on the University of Glasgow website.

She was appointed chief scientific adviser (CSA) for Scotland in June 2016.

Prof Rowan, who is also chair of natural philosophy at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “I’m surprised but delighted to be included in the New Year Honours list for my work at the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research and as the chief scientific adviser for Scotland.

“During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with hugely talented people, in the UK and from around the world, as part of the LIGO scientific collaboration which made the historic first detection of gravitational waves in September 2015 and established gravitational wave astronomy as a new way of understanding our universe.

“I’ve also been honoured to help support the Scottish Government on questions of science. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity, throughout my career, to work with great colleagues.”

In her role as chief scientific adviser, Prof Rowan works closely with the Scottish Science Advisory Council to advise the Scottish Government across all areas of its work.