Astrophysics graduate student Marlo Ramo Morales honored as DOE fellow

WSU physics doctoral student Marlo Ramo Morales discusses his research.

Computational research at Washington State University is getting a boost from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Marlo Ramo Morales, a physics doctoral student working on developing a greater understanding of black holes and gravitational waves, has been selected to receive a prestigious DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. He’s the first WSU student to receive the four‑year fellowship since it was established in 1991.

Morales’ research is in numerical relativity, which involves creating computer simulations of extreme-gravity events such as the collision and merging of two black holes, to predict the signal in gravitational waves detected by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).  

“My research at WSU involves improving higher-order boundary conditions in the Spectral Einstein Code,” said Morales. “The improvements are essential to study complex gravitational waves with higher harmonics derived from extreme space-time events.”  

Morales chose to pursue his PhD at WSU specifically to work and study alongside astrophysicists working in the field, including Vivienne Baldassare and his doctoral advisor Matt Duez.

While earning his BS in physics from California State University at Fullerton, Morales served as an undergraduate research assistant at the Nicholas and Lee Begovich Center for Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy and contributed to the software development of SpECTRE, an open-source code that uses numerical relativity to simulate and study extreme spacetimes and astrophysical events, including binary black holes and binary neutron star mergers.

The DOE fellowship honors students in PhD programs around the country who are applying high-performing computing to research across a variety of fields, including astrophysical science, engineering, computational mathematics, and environmental fluid mechanics. In addition to annual financial support, each of the 39 students in the 2023 cohort will have opportunity to complete a three‑month practicum at one of the DOE’s 21 national laboratories.

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