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Chad Hanna appointed as the Norman and Trygve Freed Early Career Professor in Physics

28 July 2016
Chad Hanna standing on the roof of the control room of the LIGO gravitational wave detector in Livingston, Louisiana. One of the 4km arms of the LIGO detector stretches into the distance at the top left of the photo. Credit: Penn State University.

Chad Hanna, assistant professor of physics at Penn State University, has been honored with the inaugural Norman and Trygve Freed Early Career Professorship in Physics. Trygve Freed -- whose husband Norman Freed (1936 - 2014) joined the Penn State faculty in the Department of Physics in 1965, was named Associate Dean of Penn State's Eberly College of Science in 1979, and served in that position until he retired in 2011 -- established the professorship to support outstanding early-career faculty in physics in the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The professorship offers recognition for outstanding early accomplishments and provides financial support to promising young faculty members to encourage establishing a commitment to teaching and exploring new areas of research.

Chad Hanna is a gravitational-wave astrophysicist. His research with the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) focuses on detecting gravitational waves emitted by binary neutron stars or black holes. Gravitational waves, first detected by LIGO in 2015, are "ripples" in spacetime predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. Hanna works to detect the gravitational waves that occur just prior to the merging of two neutron stars or black holes. Because these mergers may also be accompanied by strong electromagnetic events such as gamma-ray bursts, Hanna, along with his LIGO Scientific Collaboration colleagues, conduct real-time, gravitational-wave searches, which will enable joint electromagnetic and other astroparticle observations in order to learn more about these extraordinarily powerful events.

Before joining the Penn State faculty, Hanna was a postdoctoral fellow at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada from 2010 to 2013 and a postdoctoral scholar in the LIGO Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology from 2008 to 2010. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, where he serves as co-chair for the Compact Binary Coalescence Astrophysics Group.

Hanna has published his research in such journals as Physical Review D, The Astrophysical Journal, and Classical and Quantum Gravity.  Additionally, he has contributed significantly to publications by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.  He has presented invited lectures in the United States, Canada, and Germany. Hanna is a member of the American Physical Society.  He has served as referee for General Relativity and Gravitation and Classical and Quantum Gravity and is currently serving as associate editor of General Relativity and Gravitation.

Hanna earned his bachelor's degree in physics at Penn State in 2004, and his master's and doctoral degrees in physics at the Louisiana State University in 2006 and 2008, respectively.