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Winners of the Virgo Awards 2023 announced

Young researchers Yuefan Guo (Maastricht University), Kamiel Janssens (University of Antwerp) and Alba Romero-Rodriguez (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) are the winners of the third edition of the Virgo Award, given by the international Virgo Collaboration, every year, to young scientists of the collaboration, for their significant contribution to the operation of the experiment and to the results of the Virgo Collaboration.

“Early career scientists are the backbone of scientific research” says Virgo Spokesperson and INFN researcher Gianluca Gemme, “They bring fresh ideas, innovative methods, and diverse perspectives to the scientific community. They are the future leaders and mentors of the next generation of scientists. I congratulate the winners of the Virgo Award 2023 and all the other early career scientists who enrich our collaboration. Together, we participate in one of the most exciting scientific enterprises of our time.”

The award ceremony took place yesterday at the European Gravitational Observatory in Cascina, Italy, during the Virgo Week, a quarterly meeting of the entire international collaboration held this week.

“It has been a great honor to receive the Virgo Award.” said Yuefan Guo (Maastricht University)  “I really appreciate for the recognition from the community. I would like to dedicate this award to all the people that I have worked with on the QNR team, OSD team, Nikhef, and Maastricht group. I am grateful for the support of all of you on the way to this moment today.”

“I feel honored to have received this award and the recognition this gives.” said Kamiel Janssens (University of Antwerp) “Not only for my contributions to analyzing data from the Virgo instrument, but also for my commitment concerning mental well-being in the field of gravitational wave research. This appreciation for my work is a nice motivation to continue these efforts.”

“Thanks a lot for this award, I feel very grateful” said Alba Romero-Rodriguez, “During my Ph.D., I had the privilege of immersing myself in the fascinating world of Virgo, working alongside an extraordinary community of researchers who never ceased to inspire. I consider myself truly fortunate to continue this journey, collaborating with remarkable researchers who not only contribute to the advancement of science but also make the everyday pursuit of knowledge a joyful experience.”

The jury that selected the winners is made up of leading scientists in the field of gravitational wave physics: Dr. Lisa Barsotti, Prof. Monica Colpi, Prof. Gabriela Gonzalez, Prof. Frank Linde, Dr. Nary Man (chair), Prof. Andrea Viceré.

The Virgo Collaboration currently consists of 840 members from 148 institutions in 17 different (mainly European) countries. The European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) hosts the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, and is funded by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy, and the National Institute of Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) in the Netherlands. A list of the groups in the Virgo collaboration can be found at Further information is available on the Virgo website at

Awardees Bios:

Yuefan Guo is currently a postdoc working in Maastricht University, focused on optic simulations for Virgo and R&D experiments for ET. During her PhD in Nikhef, she worked for 1.5 years on the Virgo site mainly on the commissioning of the frequency dependent squeezing and the optical characterization of the interferometer.

Kamiel Janssens obtained his PhD in the field of gravitational wave physics, main topics of his research are the search for a stochastic gravitational wave background, and the study of the noises affecting the Virgo detector. At the same time he likes to be involved in side-projects on mental well-being and opportunities for early career scientists. In his free time he likes to bake, do some rock climbing or just enjoy nature at home or abroad.

Born in the Canary Islands, where Astrophysics holds a prominent presence, the journey of Alba Romero-Rodriguez into the world of science was shaped by the curiosity instilled in her by her parents. It was this curiosity that led her to embark on a path in Physics at the University of La Laguna. Her academic journey continued with the pursuit of a Master’s degree in theoretical Physics, but as time progressed, she found herself drawn toward gravitational wave research with a more instrumental and data analysis focus. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of her Ph.D. at IFAE. Now she is continuing this journey as postdoc at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

(pictured from left to right Alba Romero-Rodriguez, Kamiel Janssens, Yuefan Guo)