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Dr Stephen Fairhurst


Dr Stephen  Fairhurst Position:Director of Postgraduate Research Studies Email:FairhurstS ( at )
Telephone:029 208 70166

Research Interests

Dr Fairhurst’s research focuses on the search for gravitational waves, using the LIGO, Virgo and GEO detectors. He specialises in searching for gravitational wave signals emitted by merging black holes and neutron stars, and using the observed signals to understand the properties of the sources. He has developed large parts of the search and leads the Cardiff effort to search for binary merger signals in the advanced LIGO data. Dr Fairhurst also leads searches for gravitational wave signals associated with astronomical transients, such as Gamma Ray Bursts. He manages the UK's gravitational wave computational resources.

Measures of Esteem

Invited talks
I have given a number of invited talks in recent years, including

  • "Status of LIGO and Virgo searches for Neutron star binaries", MICRA 2015, Stockholm, Sweden, 2015
  • "Einstein’s Messengers", UK-India Frontiers of Science, India, 2014
  • "Gravitational Waves and Gamma Ray Bursts", Paris, France, 2014
  • "Gravitational Wave Astronomy with Compact Binaries: Localization and Latency", KITP, Santa Barbara, USA, 2012
  • "Gravitational Wave Astronomy", NEB15, Crete, Greece, 2012
  • "Gravitational Wave Astronomy," Goa, India 2011
  • "Current and Future Challenges in Gravitational Wave Observation," London, UK, 2010
  • "Searching for Gravitational Waves from Coalescing Binary Systems," Penn State, PA, USA, 2009
  • "Current status of exploiting theoretical modelling of gravity waves in data analysis,", Santa Barbara, CA, USA, 2008.

Conference Organisation

I have been involved in the organisation of a number of conferences including Amaldi 9 and NRDA 2011, Cardiff; NRDA 2010, Waterloo, Canada.

Editorial Boards

I serve on the editorial board of the International Journal of Modern Physics D.

Membership of external committees
  • I am chair of the STFC Computing Advisory Panel.
  • I am a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration's Executive Committee.


  • I developed and taught the first year module 'Computational Skills for Problem Solving (PX1224), from 2012 to 2015. Course website.
  • I developed and taught the fourth year module 'Advanced general relativity and gravitational waves' (PX4224) in 2015.
  • I was deputy module organiser for General Relativity (PX4115) from 2014-15.
  • I was deputy module organiser for Topics in Astronomy (PX2109) from 2009-11.

Admin Duties

  • Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
  • Member of departmental computing committee.


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Dr Fairhurst obtained a BA in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 1995, and completed the part III mathematics in 1996. He obtained my PhD in Physics from Penn State University in 2001, supervised by Abhay Ashtekar. His doctoral research focused on the properties of black hole horizons.

Following his PhD, he was a Killam postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta for two years and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee for three years. It was at Milwaukee that he began to work on searches for gravitational waves using the LIGO, Virgo and GEO detectors. He worked as a visiting associate at the California Institute of technology for a year.

Dr Fairhurst joined the staff at Cardiff University in 2007. He was a Royal Society University Research Fellow from 2007 to 2014. He is currently a Reader at Cardiff University.

Postgraduate Students

I currently supervise two PhD students: Andrew Williamson and Alistair Muir. My former students are:

  • Dr Ian Harry, now a postdoctoral researcher at Albert Einstein Institut, Berlin;
  • Dr Valeriu Predoi, now a postdoctoral researcher at Cardiff University
  • Dr Duncan Macleod, now a postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University.