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Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Mississippi

Featured Student: Lorena Magaña Zertuche

Lorena Magaña Zertuche is a PhD student whose research is in gravitational wave physics, and she has been selected as a NASA/Mississippi Space Grant Consortium (MSSGC) Graduate Research Fellow. The MSSGC consists of 17 Mississippi Space Grant colleges and universities as part of a larger NASA Space Grant program in all 50 states. The goal of the MSSGC program is to encourage talented individuals to pursue STEM fields of study.  Magaña Zertuche’s research is in gravitational wave physics and is focused on modeling the aftermath of two black holes merging. The remnant black hole produced from such a cataclysmic collision emits gravitational wave energy by “ringing down” at multiple frequencies — in the same way a bell does when struck. Her proposal to build a high precision surrogate ringdown model will be the first model to simultaneously fit for multiple mode frequencies over all angles and all times. This ringdown surrogate can then be incorporated into a full waveform surrogate that the LISA mission can use to take full advantage of the hundreds of signals that will be detected after its launch. This tool is crucial to fully describe all binary black hole systems detected in our universe. Magaña Zertuche’s first paper on ringdown fits is in preparation.

In the past, Magaña Zertuche has led the UM Women in Physics organization, and she currently maintains an active role in outreach activities such as co-organizing the Oxford Science Café. Apart from being passionate about physics and STEM outreach, she enjoys playing tennis and reading in her free time.