David Reitze (born January 6, 1961 in Washington, Pennsylvania) is an American laser physicist who is Professor of Physics at the University of Florida and served as the scientific spokesman of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) experiment in 2007-2011.[1] In August 2011, he took a leave of absence from the University of Florida to be the Executive Director of LIGO,[2][3] stationed at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California. He obtained his BA in 1983 from Northwestern University, his PhD in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990, and had positions at Bell Communications Research and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, before taking his faculty position at the University of Florida. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and The Optical Society.

An expert in ultrafast optics and laser spectroscopy, he now specialises in laser-based interferometric gravitational wave detection. This includes the development of new interferometer topologies for next generation gravitational wave detectors, investigations of thermal loading in passive and active optical elements, development of high power optical components, and the design, construction and operation of the LIGO interferometers.

As Director of the LIGO Laboratory, one of his main efforts has been planning the proposed extension of the LIGO network of detectors to include one in India.[4]

In February 2016, he, as executive director of LIGO, announced that the first direct gravitational wave observation had occurred on September 14, 2015 by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration using the LIGO detectors in Hanford, WA and Livingston, LA.[5][6][7][8][a]

Reitze, along with other former and present spokespersons of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery in 2017.[9]


  1. ^ Other LIGO physicists present for the announcement were Gabriela González, Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and France A. Córdova from the NSF.


  1. ^ Henderson, Mark (20 August 2009). "'Non-discovery' of space-time ripples opens door to birth of the Universe". The Times. Retrieved 2009-11-15.
  2. ^ Svitil, Kathy (August 24, 2011). "New LIGO Executive Director Named". California Institute of Technology.
  3. ^ Vieru, Tudor (August 24, 2011). "LIGO Experiment Gets New Executive Director". Softpedia.
  4. ^ "LIGO-India". IndiGO.
  5. ^ Twilley, Nicola. "Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  6. ^ Abbott, B.P.; et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration) (11 February 2016). "Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger". Phys. Rev. Lett. 116: 061102. arXiv:1602.03837. Bibcode:2016PhRvL.116f1102A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102. PMID 26918975.
  7. ^ Naeye, Robert (11 February 2016). "Gravitational Wave Detection Heralds New Era of Science". Sky and Telescope. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  8. ^ Castelvecchi, Davide; Witze, Alexandra (11 February 2016). "Einstein's gravitational waves found at last". Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19361. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  9. ^ "NAS online awards".

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