How Award-Winning Astronomers from WVU Found Favor in the Alignment of Stars | Lifestyle


WVU physics and astronomy professors Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer first crossed paths during their independent research at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in 1999. Their shared fascination with the cosmos and large radio telescopes sparked a strong bond, leading to their marriage in 2003. After stints at Cornell University and the Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK, the duo relocated to West Virginia in 2006 to further their academic careers at the state’s university. They have since made significant contributions to the university’s physics and astronomy departments while maintaining strong ties with the Green Bank Observatory.

In a significant achievement, the pair were recognized with The Shaw Prize in Astronomy in 2023 for their discovery of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) in 2007. FRBs, characterized as bright, short-lived bursts of radio waves originating from galaxies far beyond the Milky Way, are a source of great intrigue for scientists. Though their exact nature remains unknown, FRBs offer valuable insight into the largely unexplored space between galaxies.

Their groundbreaking discovery has led to the formation of a global community of researchers dedicated to uncovering the mysteries of FRBs. McLaughlin and Lorimer continue their individual research but often collaborate on various ideas, offering mutual support in their personal and professional lives.

Away from their demanding work, McLaughlin and Lorimer enjoy spending time with their three children, indulging in music, and occasionally participating in marathons. They believe their greatest achievement has been raising their children, and they find joy in observing their growth. Their story illustrates the perfect blend of personal and professional life, where common interests have paved the way for significant scientific contributions and a fulfilling personal life.



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