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Columbia Union Member Part of Nobel Prize Winning Research

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

Belinda Cheeseboro, an Andrews University (Mich.) 2015 graduate who is now working on a Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University, participated in research that was recently recognized with a Nobel Prize.

Cheeseboro, a member of Ohio Conference’s Mount Vernon Hill church, was one of the students Tiffany Summerscales, an Andrews professor of physics, worked with on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration. The project was recently recognized with a Nobel Prize in Physics for its detections of gravitational waves. Read more about the project here.

The young researcher is now researching LIGO data analysis of eccentric binaries with current advisor Sean T. McWilliams, using un-modeled methods. She explains, "Eccentric binaries are typically a pair of gravitationally massive objects (e.g. a pair of black holes) in an elliptical orbit. This system will emit bursts of energy over time in the form of gravitational waves. The orbit will circularize and the two objects will eventually merge to form a larger black hole. We are interested in refining our search methods to detect such systems to test other areas of general relativity."

Studying in a field sometimes viewed as unfriendly to Christians, Cheeseboro says she hasn’t yet faced challenges for being a Christian scientist. “My view is that my Christianity and science can work together to create a unique view of the universe, and this belief has not failed me so far.”

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