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Bernard Hall


Graduate Students in the News

When Black Holes Collide: A graduate student’s role in the detection of gravitational waves

By Cheryl Reed

Washington State University graduate student Bernard Hall was part of a team of WSU physicists who contributed to the recent detection of gravitational waves in space, confirming a theory posed by Einstein about 100 years ago. The gravitational wave detection is significant because it provides a new window into space, telling the story of the origins of the universe and the nature of gravity. The wave is believed to be the result of two black holes, 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, which collided in the southern hemisphere about 1.3 billion years ago. The energy generated from the collision was about 50 times that of the entire universe, rippling through space and creating a blip on the radar of a Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) in both Washington and Louisiana in September of 2015.

Formed from the collapse of stars as they burn out, black holes pack immense gravitational pull, and continue to grow while consuming dust and gases from around them. Black holes range in size from small to supermassive—the ones that are believed to hang at the center of every galaxy, including the Milky Way. Although black holes are invisible because their gravitation pull is too strong for light to escape, their presence can be detected through their interaction with other matter, sometimes creating some of the most brilliant objects in the universe. Astronomers can determine the size of black holes by measuring the path of the stars orbiting around them, and have thus estimated the supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way to be about 4.3 million solar masses.

When Einstein developed the theory of relativity—which basically predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform space-time to form a black hole, he believed that two black holes orbiting each other would lose energy through gravitation waves, drawing them together to finally collide. During that brief, powerful explosion, a portion of the black holes’ mass is converted to energy, creating a powerful thrust that forms gravitational waves that ripple across space.

Hall is excited to be part of the team who first detected the gravitational wave. Originally from Georgia, Bernard moved to Post Falls as a teenager and was home schooled. After graduating, he attended IT Tech and earned a bachelor’s degree in video game design. He worked in broadcast television for 12 years, then joined the Army Reserve as a medic for nine years. In 2003 he was deployed to Syria. After learning that President Obama had initiated a post-911 GI Bill for those who had been on active duty during the Gulf War, Hall decided to take advantage and study astrophysics. He attended Spokane Community College for two years, then transferred to WSU in 2012, where he began working with Dr. Sukanta Bose.

The Graduate School talked with Bernard about the gravitational wave discovery.

Graduate School: First, can you talk how you became interested in physics and why you chose to attend WSU?

Hall: There’s actually a lot of physics involved in video game design, which was my first bachelor’s degree, because you have to understand gravity and how things collide to make the games realistic. I have experience in programming languages and was really interested in the physics of how things move based on my video game design experience—but I wanted to learn more. When I researched universities that offered programs in physics, I found that WSU has one of the best.

Graduate School: How did you begin working with Dr. Sukanta Bose and his Relativity Group?

Hall: I looked Dr. Bose up when I arrived at WSU as an undergraduate student, and after meeting with him, he invited me to work in his lab. I was able to work with the relativity research group for two years as an undergraduate student. The team was searching for gravitational wave signals that could be present in the LIGO. I wrote my senior thesis on that research, then kept working for the group for a year after I graduated. I started the Ph.D. program just this year. Right now Dr. Bose is part of an effort to build a LIGO in India, so we communicate via Skype.

Graduate School: Tell me about the LIGO and what your role has been in the discovery of gravitational waves.

Hall: The LIGO that is located at Hanford was built in about 2002, but was eventually shut down a few years ago because nothing had been detected. We’ve been working on upgrades to it since then, to make it more sensitive. I’ve been working on developing two new tools: one that detects non-linear couplings and another that compares environmental channels. The LIGO is so sensitive that it picks up thousands of environmental channels, including its own thermal noises. Half of the job of analyzing the data is figuring what is a real signal and what is not. The tools I built help discriminate false signals from real signals by filtering out the false signals.

Graduate School: How did you feel when you heard about the gravitational wave detection at both Hanford and Louisiana last September?

Hall: I was cautiously optimistic. When I first heard, I looked to Dr. Bose to see if he was excited, and he was. But we had to keep the information secret until it was thoroughly researched. There has to be two sites that pick up the signal, otherwise it is usually considered a false reading. When the Livingston, Louisiana LIGO also detected it 2,000 miles away, we believed it could be real.

Graduate School: I’m really curious about the gravitational wave that was detected. It seems like we were lucky because we happened to have the LIGO turned on at the exact right moment in time.

Hall: That’s right. You might say we were lucky because we were actually just testing our LIGO when the wave was detected. It was functioning fully, but we were still performing an engineering run with it.

Graduate School: I read that the scientists believe the wave was created from two black holes colliding. Can you tell me about that theory and why they believe this?

Hall: In a nut shell, the wave forms look different according to the event that caused them. There have been models built based on Einstein’s theory, so we know that the wave was caused by a collision of phenomenal force.

Graduate School: I understand that the gravitational wave was actually detected in September of 2015. Why has it taken so long to be made public?

Hall: We needed to make sure that it was a real signal. There were large teams of scientists studying the data to make sure it was not a false detection. We didn’t want to make an announcement only to find out later that it was false.

Graduate School: What are the implications of this discovery?

Hall: Gravitational waves can tell us about the origins of the universe. Light emitted after the Big Bang only goes back 300,000 years, but these waves go back even further. The patterns we can study originally came from quantum fluctuations and can help us come closer to quantum theory and to identify the forces at work. It can help us bring quantum mechanics and relativity together. We can conduct a lot of science with this data—from that very small detection.

Graduate School: What is your ultimate goal after you earn your PhD in physics?

Hall: My ultimate goal is to be a scientist because I am fascinated with cosmology. I enjoy talking to my sons about science and my work in the field of gravitational wave detection.

Establishing Residency


Establishing Residency

Because tuition is considerably less expensive for Washington residents than out-of-state students, you should establish residency right away after you arrive in Washington State. Residency policies are set by the State of Washington (RCW 28B.15) and applied uniformly throughout Washington’s public colleges and universities. For questions or assistance, contact Jenny Saligumba-Graham, saligum@wsu.edu.

Some of the required documentation will need to be acquired a year in advance of your residency application! It’s important to begin the process NOW.

Deadline

The Questionnaire and supporting documentation must be received by the Graduate School by the 30th day of classes of the term for which you are seeking residency. If you are seeking residency for the fall term, for example, your deadline would be the 30th day of classes for the fall semester. You can find the deadline on the WSU Academic Calendar.  Ensure you are viewing the calendar for the correct term. For summer, the deadline is the Monday following the 5th day of classes.

You will need to submit the Residency Questionnaire and supporting documentation (see below) to the Graduate School. Documentation may be mailed or submitted in person. We do not accept faxed questionnaires or documentation.

The Graduate School
French Administration Building, Room 324
PO Box 641030
Washington State University
Pullman, WA  99164-1030

Requirements if you are financially independent

(not claimed as a dependent by either parent on income tax returns and you pay at least 51% of the cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies and transportation as published by the WSU Office of Financial Aid)

1. Fill out both sides of the Questionnaire completely
2. Provide the following required items:

  1. Copies of lease(s), rental agreement, letter from landlord, rent receipts, canceled rent checks or home purchase agreement verifying domicile in Washington for the 12 months prior to beginning of semester. You must account for the entire 12 month period.
  2. Copy of State of Washington voter’s registration card or statement from county auditor with date registered, if you are registered to vote. (Must have obtained 12 months prior to beginning of semester)
  3. Copy of State of Washington vehicle registration, if you own or use a vehicle in the state of Washington. If you use (but do not own) a vehicle, it must be registered in the state of Washington. (Must have registered vehicle 12 months prior to beginning of semester)
  4. Copy of State of Washington driver’s license or State of Washington identification card (if you do not drive or do not have a previous driver’s license from another state).  Residents of the State of Washington are required to surrender their previous state’s driver’s license and obtain a State of Washington driver’s license or state identification card within 30 days of moving to and establishing a domicile in the state.  More information on obtaining a State of Washington driver’s license or identification card can be found here.
  5. Any other documents you may have with dates showing that you have established a “home” in Washington (bank accounts).
  6. Copy of your federal tax return and W-2 forms for the most recent tax year. If you have not filed a tax return, please provide copies of W-2 forms, if any.
  7. If you are 24 or younger, you must also provide a copy of your parents’ return(s) (first page listing dependents and the signature block are required).
  8. If 24 or younger, submit documents verifying your financially independent status for the current calendar year and the prior calendar year. To be considered financially independent, a student must demonstrate by evidence satisfactory to the institution that he or she has met, through his or her income, the expenses associated with college tuition and living for the current calendar year and the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which application is made.

-Financial aid grants, scholarships and loans authorized by the Financial Aid Office in the student’s name may be considered as personal income.

-A trust or other account available to the student may be considered evidence of financial independence if the account was created before the student entered high school. You must submit documentation of the date account was established and proof the account was used to pay for expenses associated with college tuition and living for the current calendar year and the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which application is made.

-Personal loans, PLUS loans, checking & savings accounts, gifts, and cash earnings SHALL NOT be counted as income in this calculation. Receipt of the Federal Parent PLUS loan will contradict financial independent status.

3. Sign Section 2 and the back of the Questionnaire form.

Requirements if you are financially dependent (supported by a parent/guardian)

1. Fill out Section 1 and Section 2 of the questionnaire. If you are not a U. S. citizen, but hold permanent resident immigration status, temporary resident status, “Refugee-Parolee,” “Conditional Entrant” status, or are permanently residing in the United States under color of law, attach a copy of both sides of your Resident Alien Card

2. Your parent or court-appointed guardian completes Section 3 and provides documents verifying his/her status as a Washington State resident as stated below:

  • Copies of lease, rental agreement, letter from landlord, rent receipts, canceled checks or home purchase agreement verifying domicile in Washington for the 12 months prior to beginning of semester. You must account for the entire 12 month period.
  • Copy of State of Washington voter’s registration card or statement from county auditor with date registered, if you are registered to vote. (Must have obtained 12 months prior to beginning of semester)
  • Copy of State of Washington vehicle registration, if you own or use a vehicle in the state of Washington. If you use (but do not own) a vehicle, it must be registered in the state of Washington. (Must have registered vehicle 12 months prior to beginning of semester
  • Copy of State of Washington driver’s license or State of Washington identification card if you do not drive. (Must have obtained 12 months prior to beginning of semester)
  • Any other documents you may have with dates showing that you have established a “home” in Washington (bank accounts).

3. Provide a copy of your parent(s) federal income tax return for the most current year verifying your dependent status (only the listing of dependents and signature block are required) . If your parent or court-appointed guardian is not a U.S. citizen, but she/he holds permanent or temporary resident status, or “Refugee-Parolee,” “Conditional Entrant” status, or is permanently residing in the United States under color of law, attach a copy of both sides of his/her Resident Alien Card, Temporary Resident Card or other verification of his/her status with USCIS.

4. You and your parent must sign the back of the Residency Questionnaire form.

Requirements if you are Military Personnel/Civil Service

1. If you are active-duty military or the dependent of an active military member stationed in the state of Washington, provide a copy of your military ID and your orders to:

Veterans Affairs Office
French Administration Bldg Room 346
PO Box 641035
Pullman, WA 99164-1035

2. If you are a dependent of an active-duty military, or civil servant, who claims Washington as your residence, but who is stationed outside of the State of Washington, your parent or guardian must complete Section 3 of the questionnaire and also provide:

    • Evidence he/she is a member of the military
    • Evidence of his/her Home of Record
    • Evidence of ties maintained to the State of Washington (voter registration, driver’s license, vehicle registration) REQUIRED
    • Copy of his/her federal tax return for the most recent tax year (first page listing dependents and the signature block are required).

Keep in Mind:

    • You will need to enter your information onto the form, however, you will need to print, sign, and submit the form to the appropriate office, along with your supporting documentation.
    • Documentation may be mailed or submitted in person.  We do not accept faxed questionnaires or documentation.
    • To speed your request, make sure the information is complete and correct.
    • Your questionnaire will not be processed until all supporting documentation is received.
    • Depending on the time of year, it may take up to two weeks to process your questionnaire and supporting documentation. Please plan accordingly.
    • If the document is listed as required,  you must submit it.
    • Decisions on resident status are based on documentary evidence submitted, which become a part of your file and are not returned.
    • Students are responsible for paying the resident portion of their fees while awaiting a determination of their residency status.  You may find the cost of attendance and tuition rates here.
    • Residency policies are set by the State of Washington (RCW 28B.15) and applied uniformly throughout Washington’s public colleges and universities.

Prospective Students


Why WSU?

Why is Graduate School a good choice?

  • Research: At Washington State University, graduate students work closely with world-renown faculty on research projects that are solving big world problems. It’s your chance to help build a better world.
  • Earning Potential: Your chance for financial success grows exponentially with a graduate degree. Master’s graduates average more than $67,000 a year compared to bachelor’s graduates at about $56,000 per year. Doctoral graduates earn on average about $92,000 a year and professional degree-holders can earn about $100,000 per year.
  • Job Security: Washington state has a shortage of people with graduate degrees. Your chance of getting a good-paying job with your graduate degree are high.
  • Financial Assistance for School: The majority of graduate students at WSU get teaching, research, or graduate internships. Many students graduate from WSU with little or no debt.

Why Attend Washington State University?

Financial Assistance

Don’t let financial worry stop you from applying to graduate school. There are many resources available for graduate students. Because of all the financial assistance available, many graduate students at WSU graduate with absolutely no debt.

Childcare and Healthcare

We’re committed to providing a quality graduate education in a family-friendly environment. Discover some of the resources and benefits of attending graduate school in a quiet and safe community.

Pet-Friendly

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Explore Your Options

Begin planning for graduate school early in your undergraduate career. Explore the specifics of courses that might interest you, or check out all of the graduate degree programs, professional degree programs, and graduate certificates available at WSU. You can request information about any of our programs and find out early what requirements you will need to fulfill.

How to Prepare for Graduate School

There are several things you can do as an undergraduate student to prepare for graduate school.

Learn the WSU Fight Song!

Graduate School Forms


Graduate School Forms

Instructions

♦ BE SURE TO DOWNLOAD THE FORMS before filling them out. Depending upon your browser, forms may not automatically download and will sometimes be dysfunctional if viewed in your browser.

♦ We recommend you  DOWNLOAD THE LATEST VERSION OF ADOBE READER to view and download the PDF forms. The program is free and will allow you to utilize fillable PDF forms.

For questions, email gradsch@wsu.edu or call 509-335-6424. When emailing questions, please put “Form Question“ for the subject line and include your student ID number in your email.

Searchable Forms List

Form LinkForm DescriptionFile Type
Affidavit of SupportThis is a form for international student sponsors to fill out to certify that there is financial support.PDF
Add an Academic Program Degree LevelSubmit this form if you wish to add a degree level. Contact Graduate Admissions for additional information.PDF
All But Dissertation (ABD) WaiverIf you have passed your preliminary exam and have completed your formal program of study course work, you can apply for an ABD waiver by submitting this form.PDF
Application for AdmissionWSU's online applicationWebsite
Application for Degree and GraduationInstructions for applying for your degree and graduation in myWSU. You must have an approved program of study on file at the Graduate School.Website
Application for a Graduate Certificate


Deadlines and Procedures for Graduate Certificate
File your coursework for the certificate using this form during the semester in which you are completing the certificate requirements. You must be currently enrolled to apply for a graduate certificate.

Follow the deadlines and procedures in this document when applying for a graduate certificate.
PDF



PDF
Committee ChangeIf you would like to change your committee members use this form.PDF
Committee Substitution Please submit the form in a timely fashion if you need to request a substitution for one of your committee members. PDF
Continuous Enrollment Policies for Degree-SeekingGraduate School policies and procedures for maintaining continuous enrollment for degree-seeking students.Website
Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral DegreeFall 2017 - Spring 2019 deadlines and procedures. This includes information about when to obtain an advisor and when to submit your application for degree.PDF
Deadlines and Procedures for Master's DegreeFall 2017 - Spring 2019 deadlines and procedures. This includes information about when to obtain an advisor and when to submit your application for degree.PDF
Enrollment Request for
Careers - Undergraduate taking graduate courses
Undergraduates who want to enroll in graduate courses not for graduate credits but toward an undergraduate degree or enrichment purposes. Form must be submitted by the graduate academic coordinator of the department offering the course.PDF
Graduate LeaveFor graduate students wishing to go on official graduate leave.PDF
Graduate to UndergraduateGraduate students who are no longer pursuing a graduate degree must submit this form and also apply to undergraduate admissions. PDF
Graduation ChecklistA list of tasks to be completed in the semester in which you are planning to graduate.PDF
Hold Harmless and Copyright AgreementSubmit this form with your final dissertation or thesis.PDF
Hometown News Release FormTo spread the joy of your award, scholarship, or graduation to your friends and family back home.PDF
Incomplete Grade AgreementAn agreement for instructors and students for submitting an incomplete grade and expectations for completion. Note: if an incomplete grade is not satisfied within one year, the grade will automatically convert to an ‘F’. For example, if you received an Incomplete in fall 2013, you would have until the last day of class fall 2014 to satisfy the incomplete. For details about this policy, visit the registrar’s academic regulations.PDF
Internship Leave FormFor graduate students seeking to participate in a semester internship.PDF
Graduate to MBA StatusTo change your status from graduate student to MBA student PDF
Medical LeaveRequired along with Graduate Leave Form.PDF
Petition to Add, Drop, or Withdraw from CoursesTo change your enrollment status and add, drop, or withdraw from courses.PDF
Plan and Degree Level Change FormSubmit this form if you wish to change your major or degree level. Contact Graduate Admissions for additional information.PDF
Plan and Degree - WSU INTO ProgressionWSU INTO students submit this form when completing their graduate pathway and progressing into their degree-seeking programPDF
Program of Study RequestYour program plan for completing your degreePDF
Program of Study Request: Professionally-oriented CohortFor departments approved as professionally oriented master's programs; used to create the program plan for completing the degree. PDF
Program of Study: External Committee Member RequestSubmit this form with your Committee Request if you are proposing a committee that includes a member who is not WSU facultyPDF
Program ChangeSubmit this form if your approved program of study has changed. Be aware of dates and deadlines.PDF
Program of Study for DNPDoctor of Nursing Practice program of study/completion form. Submit the completed form to the Graduate School.PDF
Re-enrollmentComplete at least one month before you return. PDF
Registrar’s Academic Regulations Graduate students must follow procedures in the Policies and Procedures ManualWebsite
Required Votes to Pass ExamsSee the minimum positive votes needed to pass an exam.PDF
Reservation of Graduate CreditForm must be submitted 2 weeks prior to the semester in which you are requesting enrollment.PDF
Residency QuestionnaireResidency Questionnaire, Requirements, and Instructions Fillable PDF
Scheduling Exam: Doctoral/Thesis Final, Non-thesis Final, and Preliminary ExamsProcedures for scheduling standard exams. Students must have an approved Program of Study on file at the Graduate School before scheduling examinations. Fillable PDF
Scheduling Exam: Interim Final

Scheduling Exam: Interim Preliminary
An Interim Preliminary or final Exam may be requested in extenuating circumstances. The committee chair must provide a rationale why the exam can only be scheduled during one of the periods on the form.PDF
Sponsored Student Tuition & WaiverNote: The Graduate School is implementing a new procedure for fall 2016 and will not be accepting Sponsored Student Tuition & Waiver forms for the fall 2016 semester.PDF
Short-term Parental LeaveFor the birth or adoption of a child.PDF
Survey of Earned Doctorates
Click on the right to select the online submission or the pdf submission option.
Submit along with your final dissertation.Online Survey

PDF
Thesis and Dissertation Formatting and Submission RequirementsInstructions for finalizing and submitting your dissertation or thesis.PDF
Thesis and Dissertation Word TemplateDownloadable Thesis and Dissertation Template Word
Thesis/Dissertation Final Acceptance ChecklistConformance and completeness checklist. This form is due upon completion of submitting final thesis or dissertation.PDF

 

Faculty and Staff


Resources and Deadlines

Current Students


Navigating your degree

Doctoral Degree

Get information about establishing residency, selecting a dissertation committee, filing a doctoral Program of Study, and submitting your dissertation HERE. Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Doctoral Degrees.

Master’s Degree

Get information for all four semesters–from how to select an advisor, to establishing ties in Washington, what you need to file a Program of Study, as well as ordering cap and gown. Find out about the Deadlines and Procedures for Master’s Degrees.

Graduate Certificate

Find out about the procedures and deadlines for graduate certificates HERE.

Find out more about Graduate School deadlines and procedures in this video. For questions, contact stormom@wsu.edu.

 

 

Understand Graduate School Leave Policies

To learn more detailed information, view the Policies and Procedures Manual, Chapter Five.