Pavani Jairam '23 - LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at Caltech

Pavani Jairam

This summer, I did gravitational wave research at Caltech through the LIGO Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program. The LIGO collaboration is dedicated to detecting gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime that are caused by violent processes in the Universe. During the 10-week program, my research project focused on determining the feasibility of using matched filter searches for core-collapse supernovae. Gravitational waves have yet to be detected from core-collapse supernovae, so matched filtering is a technique that could be used to help detect such phenomenon in a detected signal from LIGO data. Essentially, matched filtering consists of utilizing a template bank in which templates are passed over signals to see if there are templates similar to the signal. Throughout the summer, I developed data analysis and computational skills through studying and comparing supernova waveforms that are based on a supernova phenomenological model.

During the program, I got the chance to tour the LIGO Hanford Observatory, which is one of the laser interferometers used to detect gravitational waves. As a SURF student, I also participated in professional development workshops and socials where I met other SURF students and faculty at Caltech. I am thankful to have had a summer filled with connecting with amazing people, working on a cutting-edge project, and exploring the Greater Los Angeles Area.