West Virginia University astrophysics professor Maura McLaughlin, 35, is considered a role model, particularly for young women interested in the sciences. Internationally recognized for her research on neutron stars, she inspires high school and college women to pursue careers in scientific fields.

* CORE NEWS FACTS

  • McLaughlin is working closely with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va. on the Pulsar Search Collaboratory. The project engages Appalachian teenagers in a massive search for new pulsars. Funded by nearly $900,000 from the National Science Foundation, West Virginia students are joining an international team analyzing more than 100 terabytes of sky survey data collected by the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. The program, which McLaughlin is coordinating with WVU physics professor Duncan Lorimer, has been lauded for its innovation, increasing opportunities for young West Virginians in science and technology. To learn more, visithttp://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/6126orhttp://www.nrao.edu/pr/2007/pulsarcollab.
  • She is one of only 23 physicists in the United States and Canada selected for the prestigious 2008 Sloan Research Fellowship. As a Sloan Research Fellow, McLaughlin joins an extremely distinguished group. Since the awards began, 35 fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, and 14 have received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics. For the full story on her fellowship, and photos, seehttp://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/6577.
  • McLaughlin was the lead author of a 2006 Nature paper announcing the discovery of a mysterious type of collapsed star called a rotating radio transit (RRAT). Since the original discovery of 11 RRATs, McLaughlins research team has found an additional 10. McLaughlin also led a team that made the first discovery of high-energy X-ray pulsations coming from RRATs, using data from the European Space Agency telescope, XMM -Newton. Story/photos:http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/6534orhttp://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMJJF2MDAF_index_0.html.
  • Her efforts to discover the first and only known double-pulsar some 2,000 light years away from Earth gave physicists a powerful tool to conduct precise testing of Albert Einsteins general theory of relativity. Story/photos:http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/3380.

* MAURA S WEB SITE *

http://www.as.wvu.edu/~pulsar/maura

* AUDIO *

http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/audio/Mar272008.mp3

* PHOTO /GRAPHICS LINKS *

http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/gallery/6577/3186/

http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/gallery/6534/3122/

http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/gallery/5745/2352/

http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/gallery/3380/1051/

* MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES *

  • * APRIL 19 -20: McLaughlin and Lorimer will be conducting astronomical observations with WVU undergraduate and graduate students using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope at Green Bank, W.Va. Interview/photography/video opportunities will be available as McLaughlin and University students utilize their scheduled time on the telescope. Due to certain restrictions related to possible digital interference with frequencies used by the radio telescopes, members of the media interested in participating must coordinate in advance by contacting Ted Webb at WVU News and Information Services by Wednesday, April 16, at 304-293-5508.
  • * JULY 21 -25:* Members of the media are also invited to the Pulsar Search Collaboratorys summer 2008 program at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. During the program, McLaughlin will instruct 30 West Virginia high school students and 20 teachers on astronomy skills, using the radio space telescopes at Green Bank. Due to certain restrictions, media members must coordinate at least three weeks in advance by calling Ted Webb at WVU News and Information Services, 304-293-5508.

* QUOTES

*Maura McLaughlin, assistant professor WVU Department of Physics: The Pulsar Search Collaboratory will give West Virginia high school students the chance to make groundbreaking discoveries like finding exotic pulsar binary systems, pulsars with planetary systems or pulsars spinning faster than currently thought possible. What would be really exciting is if we found a pulsar orbiting a black hole. This would allow us to make many new measurements and learn even more about the universe.

Mike Garrison, WVU president: Its a special moment for WVU when one of our finest young faculty members is singled out for her accomplishments and her promise. Dr. McLaughlins groundbreaking astrophysics research has opened a whole new area of study at WVU and has earned international notice for her and for the students who work with her.

Mary Ellen Mazey, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU : We are honored to have Dr. McLaughlin among our many outstanding faculty members, and she is to be commended for earning a Sloan Research Fellowship. We are committed to providing a complete educational environment for undergraduate and graduate students that includes both cutting-edge research and outstanding teaching.

Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: The Sloan Research Fellowships support the work of exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers, and often at pivotal stages in their work. I am proud of the Foundations rich history in providing the resources and flexibility necessary for young researchers to enhance their scholarship, and I look forward to the future achievements of the 2008 Sloan Research Fellows.

* BOILERPLATES *

West Virginia University,http://www.wvu.edu, is the flagship institution of higher education in the state. A public land grant institution, founded in 1867, the Universitys 15 colleges and schools offer 178 bachelors, masters, doctoral and professional degree programs. WVU is classified as aCarnegie Research University (High Research Activity), and as such, is one of the nations top research universities. Students come from all counties in West Virginia, 49 states, the District of Columbia, 3 territories, and 91 nations. Fall 2006 enrollment was 27,115, and there were approximately 4,500 degrees granted in the 2006-2007 academic year. With its proximity to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WVU is positioned in one of the worlds prime locations for radio astronomy research.

Founded in 1956, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO),http://www.nrao.edu, provides state-of-the-art radio telescope facilities for use by the international scientific community. Its Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is the most technically advanced single-dish radio telescope in the world. The telescopes 110-meter by 100-meter dish boasts more than two acres of area for collecting faint radio waves from the Universe. In addition to providing scientists with telescope observing time, the NRAO provides programs in education and public outreach for teachers, students, the general public and the media.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,http://www.sloan.org, provides grants for science, technology and the quality of American life. The goal of the Sloan Research Fellowship program is to enhance the careers of the very best young faculty members in selected fields of science at American and Canadian universities and colleges.