Blackfoot Poetry from Einstein to Spacetime – Lecture by Corey Gray, Caltech & LIGO – Virtual

Corey is a member of the Siksika Nation (Northern Blackfoot tribe of Alberta) and Scottish. He received Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Humboldt State University (HSU) in northern California.

After graduation, he was hired as a Detector Operator by Caltech (California Institute of Technology) to work for the astronomy project, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) at their observatory in Washington state. As a member of the LIGO team, Corey’s work includes working with groups to help build the gravitational wave detector, and also operating the detector as a member of the operator team. Corey has been with LIGO since 1998. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) made big news in 2016 by announcing what has been hailed as “the scientific breakthrough of the century”: the first direct detection of gravitational waves. This was a monumental discovery because it proves a prediction made 100 years earlier by Albert Einstein! LIGO has made many more detections over the years. These detections mark the beginning of a completely new field of science: gravitational wave astronomy.  Corey also enjoys outreach & science communication. Over the years he has given keynotes, plenary talks, public colloquia, conference panel sessions, and also a TEDx talk. His speaking engagements have taken him from Banff to Orlando, Montreal to Honolulu and many points in between. He especially loves to share the science of Einstein with Indigenous youth and other underrepresented groups.

Corey is also proud of recruiting his mother, Sharon Yellowfly, to translate several detection press releases and science summaries into the Blackfoot language!

In Corey’s personal life you can find him hiking a trail, dancing at a salsa club, catching a cool film, or more recently kayaking (with a wooden kayak he built!). He also loves to travel whether it is locally or around the world.


Photo credit LIGO, Dr. Keita Kawabe