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Dr Stephen Fairhurst


Dr Stephen  Fairhurst Position:Royal Society University Research Fellow, PG Admissions Tutor (Astronomy) Email:Stephen.Fairhurst ( at )
Telephone:029 208 70166

Research Interests

My research focuses on the search for gravitational waves, using the LIGO, Virgo and GEO detectors. In particular, I specialize in searching for gravitational wave signals emitted by merging black holes and/or neutron stars. I have developed large parts of the current analysis pipeline and used this to lead searches of the initial LIGO and Virgo data. I am particularly interested in searching for gravitational wave signals around times of potential electromagnetic counterparts, such as Gamma Ray Bursts. I was one of the instigators of the NINJA project which seeks to improve gravitational wave searches by utilizing black hole merger waveforms generated in numerical simulations.

Measures of Esteem

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

  • "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 and on the advisory panel of Classical and Quantum Gravity.

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


  • Module organiser for Computational Skills for Problem Solving (PX1224). Course website.
  • Deputy module organiser for General Relativity (PX4115).
  • Deputy module organiser for Topics in Astronomy (PX2109) from 2009-11.

Admin Duties

  • Admissions tutor for Astronomy and Gravitational physics PhDs.
  • Chair of departmental web committee.
  • Member of departmental computing committee.


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

Following my PhD, I 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 I began to work on searches for gravitational waves using the LIGO, Virgo and GEO detectors. I worked for a year as a visiting associate at the California Institute of technology for a year.

I joined the staff at Cardiff University in 2007 as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. I am currently still a URF and a Reader at Cardiff University.

Postgraduate Students

I currently supervise one PhD student: Andrew Williamson. My former students are:

  • Dr Ian Harry, now a postdoctoral researcher at Syracuse University;
  • Dr Valeriu Predoi, now a postdoctoral researcher at Ryerson University.
  • Dr Duncan Macleod, now a postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University.