Einstein’s theory of general relativity reimagines gravity as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by matter rather than an attractive force between objects with mass. In his theory, moving masses can cause wave-like oscillations in spacetime called gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are important to scientists because they carry vital information about gravitating sources.

Gravitational waves were first detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the Fall of 2015.  These waves originated in the collision of two colliding black holes 1.3 billion lightyears away.  In addition to coalescing black hole binaries, LIGO is also sensitive to binaries consisting of neutron stars.  Encoded within the gravitational waves from these collisions is information about their source that might otherwise have remained a mystery.

Leslie is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.  His research includes searching for gravitational waves from massive black hole binary systems. He also works on estimating the source parameters of binary neutron-star systems in an effort to determine the neutron-star equation of state.

Areas of Expertise

Gravitational-wave physics, astrophysics and computational physics.


2015 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

2009 — Bachelor of Science from Bates College

Courses Recently Taught

This course introduces the modern understanding of the solar system, including planets, moons and smaller bodies (asteroids, comets, meteorites). Topics include planetary interiors, surface modification processes, planetary atmospheres and the evolution of the solar system. Evening laboratory sessions will utilize a variety of methods for exploring space-science topics, including telescopic observations, computer simulations and laboratory investigations. This course does not count toward the Physics major. No prerequisite.

This course focuses on a wide variety of physics topics relevant to students in the life sciences. Topics include wave phenomena, geometrical and physical optics, elementary quantum theory, atomic physics, X-rays, radioactivity, nuclear physics and thermodynamics. When possible, examples will relate to life-science contexts. The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, in-class exercises, homework assignments and examinations. This course does not count toward the Physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 130 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 136. Offered every spring.

This lecture course is the third semester of the calculus-based introductory sequence in physics, which begins with PHYS 140 and PHYS 145. Topics include electric charge, electric and magnetic fields, electrostatic potentials, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell's equations in integral form, electromagnetic waves, the postulates of the special theory of relativity, relativistic kinematics and dynamics, and the connections between special relativity and electromagnetism. This course may be an appropriate first course for particularly strong students with advanced placement in physics; such students must be interviewed by and obtain permission from the chair of the Physics Department. This course is required for the Physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 or equivalent and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 241 (upperclass students) or PHYS 141 (first-years) and MATH 213 or equivalent. Offered every fall.

This laboratory course is a corequisite for all upperclass students enrolled in PHYS 240. The course is organized around experiments demonstrating various phenomena associated with the special theory of relativity and electric and magnetic fields. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Laboratory work emphasizes computerized acquisition and analysis of data, the use of a wide variety of modern instrumentation and the analysis of experimental uncertainty. This course is required for the Physics major. Prerequisite: PHYS 146 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 240. Offered every fall.

Section 01 (0.25 units): In this course students will conduct research, synthesize and share experiences, attend professional presentations in the department, and present their research with oral and written presentations. Students will complete a minimum of three hours of independent research under the supervision of a faculty member as well as participate in discussion sections and other commitments as designed by the instructor. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.\n\nSection 02 (0.5 units): This section carries the same requirements as Section 01, except that the time commitment is six to eight hours of individual research under the supervision of a faculty member. This section represents a significant commitment to a research project. Enrollment in this section requires consultation with the department chair. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.

This capstone course is intended to provide an in-depth experience in computational approaches to an individual topic of choice. Students will also be exposed to a broad range of computational application through presentations and discussion. Each student will give several presentation to the class throughout the semester. Permission of the instructor and program director required. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: SCMP 118 or PHYS 270, senior standing, completion of at least 0.5 units of an intermediate course and at least 0.5 units of a contributory course.