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A Gravitational Wave Runs Through It: A Story About Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and Siksika Resilience

August 29, 2019

Please join us for an exciting public presentation by Blackfoot Scientist Corey Gray and his mother, Sharon Yellowfly on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 to be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Swysgood Technology Center Great Room on the University of Montana Western campus.

Interested Montana Western students are also invited to attend a meet-and-greet lunch the same day in the Multicultural Center from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Corey Gray is a member of the Siksika Nation of Alberta. He grew up in southern California and received Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Humboldt State University. After completing his undergraduate studies, he was hired by Caltech in 1998 to work for the astronomy project, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) in Washington state. At LIGO, Corey worked on teams to both build and operate gravitational wave detectors. He is currently the Lead Operator at the observatory in Washington state. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) made big news in 2016 by announcing their first direct detection of gravitational waves. The waves were the first actually detected since Albert Einstein theorized their existence as part of his General Theory of Relativity in 1915.

Sharon Yellowfly was born and raised on the Blackfoot Indian Reserve in Southern Alberta, Canada. (The Blackfoot Indian Reserve is now known as Siksika Nation.) She was educated in a system set up for indigenous students called Indian Residential Schools. The boarding school she attended nearest her community was Crowfoot Indian Residential School and overseen by nuns and priests. Blackfoot was her first language and she was introduced to English at the boarding school. She received a BA in Anthropology with honors from California State University San Bernadino. At the time, she was one of the rare Native Americans to go into the field. Ms. Yellowfly is currently finishing a dictionary of her language. She has been working on it for over 40 years. She has four children and resides in the mountains of Southern California, but she goes home to the reserve every summer.

The public lecture will highlight Gray’s research, his experience as a native person in the sciences, and the importance of translation and his mother’s work. For more information, please contact UMW Multicultural Committee member Aja Mujinga Sherrard at [email protected] or call 406-683-7313.