Virgo Award 2023 for Nikhef postdoc Yuefan Guo

10 November 2023

Nikhef postdoc Yuefan Guo of Maastricht University has won a Virgo Award 2023 for her work on the gravitational wave detector in Pisa and the Einstein Telescope.

She shares the award with two other young Virgo scientists, Kamiel Janssens of the University of Antwerp and Alba Romero-Rodriquez (Free University of Brussels). The award was presented Wednesday at a Virgo meeting in Cascina, Italy.

Virgo is the gravitational wave detector in Italy near Pisa, in which Nikhef has been involved for a long time. In the project, funded by France, Italy and the Netherlands, 840 researchers from 17 countries are working together.
Gravitational waves are vibrations of space created when compact objects like black holes collide in the universe. They were first seen in 2015, in part by Virgo.

Spokes person Gianluca Gemme called young researchers the backbone of scientific research. “They bring new ideas, innovative methods and different perspectives to the community. These are the future leaders and mentors in the field.”

China’s Yuefan Guo is a postdoctoral fellow at Maastricht University and Nikhef. She focuses on optical simulations for Virgo and R&D for the future Einstein Telescope. During her PhD work at Nikhef, she worked for a year and a half at the Virgo site in Pisa, on optical characterization of the interferometer and optical squeezing of the laser beam.

In an interview with the Nikhef magazine DIMENSIES, she said that gravitational waves have interested her since her master’s degree in Beijing. “It’s a small field in which you can easily collaborate. That’s how I ended up in Australia and Tokyo and now in Maastricht. A nice little city, you cycle easily from the quiet suburbs to the center and the university.”