The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics has today been awarded to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves". The Nobel press release notes the importance of gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915, as "an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space ... opening up unseen worlds. A wealth of discoveries awaits those who succeed in capturing the waves and interpreting their message."

The University of Florida has been a major participant in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) since 1996. The input optical system, a key part of the LIGO detector, was designed and built by a UF team led by Profs. David Tanner, David Reitze, and Guido Mueller. Moreover, the data-processing algorithm that first detected gravitational waves on September 14, 2015 was invented at UF by Profs. Sergey Klimenko and Guenakh Mitselmakher and their research groups.

Other leaders of the UF LIGO group are Profs. Imre Bartos, Hai-Ping Cheng, and Bernard Whiting (Physics), John Conklin (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering), and Steven Eikenberry (Astronomy). Many postdoctoral researchers and students have been members of the team over the past 20 years. David Reitze has served since 2011 as Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech. More information about UF's role in the LIGO Laboratory and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes more than 1,000 scientists from over 20 countries) can be found at http://dc.phys.ufl.edu/lig/#home/main/.