Andreas Freise appointed Professor of Gravitational Wave Physics

Physicist Andreas Freise has been appointed professor of Gravitational Wave Physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy with effect from 1 May 2020.

05/11/2020 | 11:24 AM

Professor Andreas Freise, together with Dr. Conor Mow-Lowry, will join the VU from the University of Birmingham. He plays a leading role in the international development of the next generation of Gravitational Wave Observatories. His expertise in the optical design of these instruments is crucial for the realization of the ambitious goals of improving the detection rate a thousandfold over current detectors.

Andreas Freise's research focuses on instrumentation for gravitational-wave observatories, with a special focus on optical design and interferometry. Mow-Lowry specialises in the seismic isolation systems in gravitational wave detectors. Together they will develop new technology to help gravitational-wave observatories 'hear' cosmic collisions deeper in the universe, and unravel some of the mysteries of cosmic evolution.

CV Andreas Freise  
Freise has been a member of the gravitational wave community since 1998 when he started working at the GEO 600 detector. He received his PhD from the Albert-Einstein Institute in Hannover (2003) and moved on to help complete the Virgo detector in Pisa (2003-2005) before becoming a faculty member at the University of Birmingham. There he joined the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and eventually became Professor of Experimental Physics and Deputy Director of the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Freise pioneered the development of numerical simulations that are essential for the design and commissioning of large laser interferometers. He developed the software FINESSE that is now one of the most widely used interferometer design tools in the field.

During his career Freise has had many opportunities to shape gravitational wave projects, including as subsystem manager for Advanced Virgo, as member of the GEO executive committee and the LIGO Council, and as a reviewer for KAGRA. Freise was part of a small team that conceived the idea for the new European detector, the Einstein Telescope (ET), in 2010. Since then, he has continued to work towards the realisation of this project, for example, by building the new collaboration as a member of the ET steering committee and by leading teams working on the design of the detector.

CV Conor Mow-Lowry  
Mow-Lowry began his research in Australia developing new experimental techniques for gravitational wave detectors. His work has touched on many aspects of detectors, from reducing the quantum noise with 'squeezed light' technology, to investigating the effect of optical springs that can push around a 40kg mirror. He worked in Germany from 2012-2015 at a gravitational-wave detector prototype, where his research focussed on reducing vibrations.

As a faculty member at the University of Birmingham, Mow-Lowry's research addressed one of the toughest problems in gravitational-wave observation: how to break the seismic wall to observe heavier objects deeper in the universe. He also leads a team that are currently building upgrades for the LIGO detectors. Mow-Lowry recently won an ERC Consolidator grant that he will bring to the VU to develop a new kind of 'active noise cancellation' system for the Einstein Telescope.

Departure Jo van den Brand
Professor on gravitational waves Jo van den Brand has been appointed as ‘Limburghoogleraar’ at the Universiteit Maastricht on August 1st, 2019. He remains connected to the VU as visiting professor.