Alessandra Buonanno is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on the dynamics of and gravitational-wave emission from coalescing binary black holes, the interface between analytical and numerical relativity, and post-Newtonian theory. She has conducted research to design advanced optical configurations of laser interferometer gravitational-wave detectors operating at and below the standard quantum limit. She is also interested in studying physical sources of gravitational-wave emission in the early universe.
In her Radcliffe fellowship project, titled “Modeling Gravitational Waves from Merging Black Holes,” Buonanno will develop theoretical tools to model analytically the gravitational-wave signals emitted during the final moment of evolution of binary black holes, focusing in particular on signals from holes that carry intrinsic rotation. These models will be used to search for gravitational waves from merging black holes with current and future detectors and will allow the extraction of precise information—eventually making possible a test of general relativity itself.
Buonanno earned her PhD in theoretical physics at the Università di Pisa in Italy in 1996. She was subsequently a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, CERN, and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques. She was also a staff researcher at France’s Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique. While at the University of Maryland, Buonanno has been a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and recently became a fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation.