Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by the motion of masses across spacetime. These ripples, known as gravitational waves, have an observable effect on the spacetime in which we live. Gravitational waves stretch and compress spacetime by incredibly small amounts. A gravitational wave produced by some of the most dramatic astrophysical events in our universe would cause a change in the distance between us and the nearest star that is the width of a human hair. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) seeks to detect these minuscule changes in spacetime caused by gravitational waves using a kilometer-sized interferometer. The first direct detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger 1.3 billion years ago occurred on Sept. 14, 2015. This monumental discovery was also the first direct observation of a binary black hole merger.  Madeline Wade was fortunate enough to be part of this historical moment in science!

Wade is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and works as a data analyst on the experiment. She works on calibration of the LIGO interferometers, identifying noise transients in LIGO data, and searches for gravitational waves from the inspiral and merger of two massive, compact objects, such as neutron stars and black holes.

Areas of Expertise

Gravitational-wave physics, astrophysics, data analysis


2015 — Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin - Madison

2014 — Collegiate Teaching Certificate from the University of Wisconsin - Madison

2009 — Bachelor of Science from Bates College

Courses Recently Taught