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Alessandra Buonanno receives the 2022 Tomalla Prize

The prize is awarded about every three years for extraordinary contributions to general relativity and gravity

October 30, 2021

The prize, awarded by the Swiss Tomalla Foundation for Gravity Research, is endowed with 100,000 Swiss francs. Since 1981, the prize has been awarded every 3-4 years to outstanding researchers in gravity. The award ceremony will take place in February 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I feel deeply honored and delighted to receive this prestigious award,” says Alessandra Buonanno, director of the department “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity” at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam. “It is a wonderful recognition of my research and I am very aware that I owe a great deal to the members of my group and my many collaborators working in the field of gravitational- wave astronomy.”

The detection of gravitational waves and the correct identification of the sources require detailed knowledge of the expected signals. Alessandra Buonanno’s research on waveform modeling has been essential in the detection of gravitational waves from binary black holes and neutron stars, and the physical interpretation of the signals. Buonanno pioneered and greatly contributed to the successful synergistic approach of combining numerical-relativity techniques and analytical-relativity methods with the goal of developing the most accurate and efficient waveform models for gravitational-wave observations.

Alessandra Buonanno studied theoretical physics in Pisa, and held faculty positions in Paris and at the University of Maryland, where she became full professor in 2010. She is a Principal Investigator of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. For her contributions to LIGO and Virgo discoveries, she was awarded several prizes, including the 2018 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz prize – the most prestigious research prize in Germany. In 2021 she was awarded the Galileo Galilei Medal, the Dirac Medal, and the Balzan Prize. She has been elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, of the US National Academy of Sciences, and of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Buonanno is a Fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, and of the American Physical Society. She holds a research professorship at the University of Maryland, and honorary professorships at the Humboldt University in Berlin, and at the University of Potsdam.

The Tomalla Foundation for Gravity Research has been founded in 1982 according to the testamentary wishes of Dr Walter Tomalla, a business man from Basel, Switzerland. With this foundation, Tomalla wanted to promote gravity research in Switzerland and abroad.
The foundation awards prizes for exceptional research in gravitation and/or cosmology every third year and it founds research fellows and visitors for gravity research at Swiss Universities.

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