• Yanbei Chen with a background image of two colliding black holes
    Yanbei Chen, (PhD '12) Professor of Physics at Caltech, with a background image of two colliding black holes

Lessons from LIGO: Your Support Helps Graduate Students Create the Science of the Future

"This fellowship provided freedom to establish important collaborations across the world and to travel to conferences to communicate my research."
Yanbei Chen, PhD '12 and Professor of Physics at Caltech
 
Dear Caltech Associates members,

As we celebrate with our loved ones during this 2016 holiday season, have you thought about your own opportunity to impact the future, from right where you are? Please consider joining Caltech and partnering in a program at the forefront of the Institute's—and the Associates'—priorities: the Caltech Associates Endowed Graduate Fellowship.

Graduate students are some of the most important people on the Caltech campus. They drive many of Caltech's consistently extraordinary advances in science and technology. They are the dreamers and visionaries of the future. They work closely with some of our world's most forward-thinking scientists and researchers. Your year-end gift, in partnership with other Caltech Associates' efforts, can empower these young people to change the world.

Now let me share a story about one of the most profound breakthroughs in the history of science: a discovery that has changed the future of astronomical observation!
 
A young, exceptionally talented, and curious scholar arrived at Caltech in 1999 after finishing his undergraduate degree in China. Yanbei Chen didn't know exactly what he wanted to do except pursue science at a world-renowned center for research. Within his first few weeks on the Caltech campus, he happened to sit in on a number of lectures led by Kip Thorne, Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, and one of the cofounders of LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).
David and Barbara Groce
 
During his formative years at Caltech, Yanbei was the grateful recipient of a graduate fellowship created by Associates members David (BS '58, PhD '63) and Barbara Groce. "Yanbei and graduate students like him need some time free from grading papers and other teaching responsibilities. This support lets them concentrate on completing their research. An endowed fellowship will continue to help forever," explain the Groces.
 
"These experiences broadened my scope and vision for life and fostered scientific partnerships that are still strong today," Yanbei says. You may have heard, about a year ago, that gravitational waves were detected at LIGO, confirming a major prediction of Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity. Yanbei, with Kip Thorne, was part of the discovery team that opened this unprecedented window into the cosmos.
 
At Caltech, our graduate students are devoted to solving complex and unique problems like this. "Caltech students can discover the unknown, face challenges, contribute to society in a very unique way, and create the science of the future," says Yanbei.
 
His impact on our community did not end after completion of his graduate studies. Yanbei was recruited back to Caltech as professor of physics in 2007, and he continues to push the boundaries of the unknown. 
 
Please join me and your fellow Associates by helping endow education for graduate students like Yanbei Chen. As your new president, I am privileged to thank you for your generous support of Caltech and the Associates.
 
With warmest wishes for a peaceful holiday season,
Jane Arnault-Factor, President
Caltech Associates

Make an Online Gift to the Caltech Associates Endowed Graduate Fellowship Now
 

Yanbei Chen and his graduate students

(Images from left to right: Yanbei pictured with his graduate students Belinda Pang, Zachary Mark, and Bassam Helou; Kip Thorne at the LIGO press conference announcement; and an illustration that shows the merger of two black holes and the gravitational waves that ripple outward as the black holes spiral toward each other.)