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McWilliams to lead the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology in new role as Director


The Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology at West Virginia University is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Sean McWilliams as its newest Director. McWilliams was appointed to this new role by the former Director, Dr. Maura McLaughlin, who now serves as the Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at WVU.

Sean McWilliams

In this new role, McWilliams is optimistic about the Center’s role in an ever changing environment, and he is dedicated to serving as an advocate of the research, outreach and overall mission of the Center. He hopes to raise the national profile of the Center by hosting conferences and outreach activities, and helping the faculty, staff, and students of the Center to share their work with a broader audience.

McWilliams has a strong and outstanding history within the Center.

Dr. McWilliams brings a broad research background and a passion for outreach to his new role. Notably, McWilliams co-produced and managed the Celebrating Einstein event (below) at WVU in 2017. This interdisciplinary "multimedia extravaganza" aimed to convey the beauty and significance of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, reaching over 1,600 people on campus and 111,000 people via Facebook Live. Further details about this event can be explored at Celebrating Einstein

Celebrating Einstein 2017

Dr. McWilliams contributed to the first detection of gravitational waves as a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory scientific collaboration, or LIGO. The discovery was announced in 2016, confirming Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and inaugurating a new field of astronomy. In honor of the detection, the leaders of LIGO received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017.

McWilliams earned Bachelor’s of Science degrees in Physics and in Astronomy and Astrophysics, with Minors in Mathematics, Astrobiology and Philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. He earned his Master’s and PhD in Physics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to arriving at WVU in 2013, he completed postdoctoral fellowships at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Columbia University, and Princeton University.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. McWilliams to the new role!