Professor Sheila Rowan CBE, FRSE

Current Member

Ex-Officio Member

Professor Sheila Rowan was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) for Scotland in June 2016.

This is a part-time position within the Scottish Government. Professor Rowan remains Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow, a position she has held since 2009. She received a CBE in 2021.

After her PhD studies in Glasgow, Professor Rowan held various positions split between the University of Glasgow and the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory at Stanford.  She returned to Glasgow in 2003, becoming Professor of Experimental Physics in 2006.

Her research is targeted at developing optical materials for use in gravitational wave detectors, and her recent work formed part of the ‘Advanced LIGO’ observatory upgrades, carried out between 2010 and 2015, contributing to one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of this century:  the first detection of gravitational waves announced in February 2016, resulting in a share of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her and the members of her team in Glasgow.

At the Institute, Professor Rowan leads a group of around 60 researchers developing detectors and signal analysis methods to search for gravitational waves both on the ground and from space.  She currently chairs the Gravitational Wave International Committee, focussed on co-ordinating and shaping the global strategic landscape of gravitational wave research.
Prizes and Fellowships include:

• Leverhulme Prize for Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2005
• Fellowship of the Institute of Physics in 2006
• Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008
• Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2010
• Fellowship of the American Physical Society in 2012