UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College Welcomes Cosmologist Janna Levin as Part of 20th-Anniversary Celebration

Levin to deliver the Fall 2019 Kathryn and Paul Williamson Lecture
Janna Levin
Janna Levin

AMHERST, Mass. – Cosmologist, author, and Guggenheim Fellow, Janna Levin, will deliver the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College Fall 2019 Kathryn and Paul Williamson Lecture.

An event that marks the launch of the college’s 20th-anniversary celebration, a year-long journey of ideas that will connect alumni with current students and bridge the past, present, and future of the Honors experience. Levin’s talk, based on the title of her new book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, will be given on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 5:30 pm, in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Janna Levin is changing the way we understand the cosmos. Her latest book offers the authoritative story of the headline-making discovery of gravitational waves—the soundtrack to astronomy’s silent movie. But why was this scientific campaign so significant? And what does it mean for the sciences—and humanity—in general? Levin’s talk will explain the significance, beauty, and human story at the center of this fifty-year endeavor—bringing originality and lucidity to one of the discoveries of our age.

Currently the director of sciences and chair of the Science Studios at Pioneer Works, Levin is also the Claire Tow professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow, she has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature “Black Hole Apocalypse,” aired on PBS—and the show’s first female presenter in 35 years. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize. Her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, is the inside story on the discovery of the century: the sound of spacetime ringing from the collision of two black holes over a billion years ago.

Established in 2000 by alumni Kathryn and Paul Williamson, the UMass lecture series brings distinguished visitors to the university to interact with Commonwealth Honors College students and present public talks.

A Community of Scholars on a Campus Full of Opportunities.
Honors at University of Massachusetts Amherst is the pursuit of academic excellence through deep intellectual exploration and creative research. As early as 1894, twenty-three pioneering undergraduates archived Honors theses in the University’s library. Our Honors community began to take shape over the next century as the practice, idea, and passion that characterizes an Honors education grew into Commonwealth Honors College in 1999. Today, our community includes 3,400 students, hundreds of faculty across campus and within the college itself, and over 13,000 alumni.