Dr. Philip S. Cowperthwaite NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow

Connecting Gravitational Wave and Electromagnetic Astronomy


About Me

I am a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. I work primarily in the emerging new field of joint gravitational wave (GW) and electromagnetic (EM) astronomy. My research focuses on everything from survey design to executing optical/NIR follow-up of GW triggers from LIGO, to modeling of the optical/NIR counterpart. Prior to my time at Carnegie, I earned my doctorate in astronomy from Harvard University under the advisement of Prof. Edo Berger and my undergraduate degree from University of Maryland - College Park, where I worked with Chris Reynolds on various observational and theoretical aspects of accretion disks.

In a previous life I was a filmmaker and photographer, working in Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C.

Research Interests


Joint GW-EM Astronomy

My research focuses on planning and executing efficient and effective follow up of gravitational wave (GW) sources in order to characterize their electromagnetic (EM) counterparts and tackle questions about the fundamental physics of compact objects. My approach involves the use of wide-field telescopes in order to find optical counterparts, which can then be followed-up to obtain a comprehensive multiwavelength data set. I then apply physical models to these counterparts in order to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the progenitors and remnants.


Large Astronomical Surveys

I am also interested in the development of strategies and tools to enable great transient science with the next-generation of wide-field surveys. This has been primarily focused on developing a target-of-opportunity program for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). This program is designed to search for EM counterparts to GW events out to much greater distances than other optical facilities. I am also interested in the development of machine learning techniques to quickly identify sources of interest in the massive stream of LSST data.

Cirriculum Vitae

Below is a summary of my Curriculum Vitae as of November 2019. You can also obtain a PDF version of this information.

Contact Information

Carnegie Observatories
813 Santa Barbara St.
Pasadena, CA 91104

E-mail - pcowperthwaite@carnegiescience.edu
Office - 203




Research Experience

Observational Experience

I am a PI or Co-I on long-running programs designed to search for and characterize electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave events across a large fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Mentoring Experience

Teaching Experience

Publication Summary

As of October 29, 2019 I am an author on 51 publications (9 as first author), my h-index is 26 and my publications have 3897 citations.

A complete publications list can be found in the PDF Version of my CV. A PDF Version of just presentations can be found here.

Presentation Summary

As of October 29, 2019 I have given 32 presentations of which 29 have been talks and 3 have been posters.

A complete listing of talks and posters can be found in the PDF Version of my CV. A PDF Version of just presentations can be found here.