The Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship

Thomas Callister

Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellow



Thomas Callister works broadly within the realm of gravitational-wave astronomy. Nearly infinitesimal ripples in the fabric of spacetime, gravitational waves are generated by the most cataclysmic events in the Universe, including the explosions of stars and the relativistic collisions of black holes. Callister’s interests lie in the use of gravitational waves as tools with which to explore the binary neutron star and black hole population, probe the astrophysical and cosmological gravitational-wave backgrounds, and test the understanding of fundamental physics. Practical gravitational-wave astronomy began only in 2015 with the first successful detection of a binary black hole collision by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Since then, however, the field has grown exponentially; roughly one hundred gravitational-wave signals have been measured to date, and thousands more are anticipated in the coming years. This expected torrent of data promises to unlock answers to a vast number of astrophysical and cosmological questions, but it will also stress current data analysis methods to their breaking points. Callister’s goal as a Schmidt fellow is to identify, develop, and deploy machine-learning methods that will tame this flood, increasing the efficiency and accuracy with which researchers can analyze gravitational-wave signals and study the properties of their astrophysical progenitors.


Thomas Callister grew up in Walla Walla, WA, after which Callister received a B.A. in Physics & Astronomy from Carleton College, an M. Phil. in Astronomy from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Caltech. Callister spent three years as a research fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics, after which Callister moved to Chicago.


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