Texas Tech University

Astrophysicist Recognized for Pioneering New Field of Multi-Messenger Astronomy

Glenys Young

December 4, 2019

(VIDEO) The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas named Alessandra Corsi the recipient of its 2020 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science.

Alessandra Corsi, an associate professor at Texas Tech University, is the recipient of the 2020 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Science from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) for her paradigm-shifting research on the merger of stars and black holes.

"Receiving the O'Donnell Science Award is something I can sincerely say goes beyond my dreams," Corsi said. "I am also extremely proud to be the first TAMEST O'Donnell awardee from Texas Tech. I strongly believe I would not have achieved the results that enabled me to get this award without the support I have received over the years here at Texas Tech."

Corsi uncovered a multisensory exploration process of our universe, where gravitational waves tell part of the story and light completes it. Utilizing data from both gravitational waves and light now allows scientists to create a comprehensive picture of the cosmic collision that occurs between neutron stars from hundreds of millions of light years away. This allows us to study previously unexplored functions of our universe.


"Dr. Corsi understood, well before others, that to gain an understanding of the star merger process and its products, and to identify precursors properly, the clarifying signal may be present in the radio afterglow," said Fazle Hussain, President's Endowed Distinguished Chair in Engineering, Science & Medicine at Texas Tech. "Because of Dr. Corsi's groundbreaking research, we now have developed a unique tool for examining space."

Through her contributions to gravitational-wave astrophysics and her discovery of the radio afterglow of GW 170817, the first binary neutron star merger detected in both gravitational waves and light, she has established herself as one of the youngest and most promising leaders in the world in the emerging field of multi-messenger astronomy.

"Dr. Corsi is a pioneer in the new field of multi-messenger astronomy, and we are proud to honor her as our 2020 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award recipient in Science," said TAMEST Board President Amelie Ramirez. "Her research has created an exceptional resource for examining previously unobserved functions of our universe. A true leader in science, we cannot wait to see what her future holds."

Corsi will be honored during the O'Donnell Awards dinner and reception on Jan. 8 at the TAMEST 2020 Conference, "Innovating Texas: Research to Commercialization." The conference takes place Jan. 7-9 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel in downtown Dallas. Media are encouraged to attend the ceremony and the conference.

2020 TAMEST Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award Recipients:
• Medicine: Susan "Bess" Frost, UT Health San Antonio
• Engineering: Jeffrey Rimer, University of Houston
• Science: Alessandra Corsi, Texas Tech University
• Technology Innovation: Kristine Kieswetter and Deepak M. Kilpadi, KCI

About the O'Donnell Awards

The Edith and Peter O'Donnell Awards annually recognize rising Texas researchers who are addressing the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness.

More than $1 million has been awarded to more than 50 recipients in the categories of medicine, engineering, science and technology innovation since the inception of the O'Donnell Awards in 2006. Read more about the 2020 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Awards recipients here.


TAMEST is the state's premier scientific organization, bringing together Texas' best and brightest scientists and researchers. With more than 300 members, TAMEST is composed of the Texas-based members of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society and the state's 11 Nobel Laureates.