Welcome to our feature A word from the expert. In this feature, we introduce someone who has organized a conference in our region or will do so in the future. This month, it is our pleasure to introduce dr. Gideon Koekoek, assistant professor at Maastricht University
1. Why did you choose your specialism?
It has never really been a choice. Since my childhood I have always been fascinated by the Universe. Once I had to give a presentation at primary school and my teacher allowed me to dive into a book about planets. From then on, I knew that I only wanted to become a physicist. I never wanted to do anything else.
2. Which conference have you managed to acquire for the Maastricht Region?
The so-called LIGO / Virgo Collaboration Meeting (LVC meeting). The LIGO / Virgo Collaboration is the worldwide collaboration between top institutes and researchers in the field of gravitational waves, which, since the first detection in 2015, have unleashed a revolution in physics and astronomy, similar to the discovery of electromagnetism or the invention of the telescope. Twice a year these researchers meet to discuss the research, to share the latest results and techniques, and to discuss the next steps. This time this will take place in beautiful Maastricht.
3. Which were the competitive cities and what was the decisive reason to choose for Maastricht?
Since September 2017, the University Maastricht has started a research program in the field of gravitational waves, and the UM has become an official member of the LIGO / Virgo Collaboration. By organizing the meeting in Maastricht, the ties between the scientists of the LIGO / Virgo Collaboration and the staff and the students of the UM are solidified and there is a direct cause for cooperation. This gives our students and staff the unique opportunity to contribute to a high-level physics research.
4. In your opinion, what is the development perspective for the region?
It is huge! By hosting the LVC meeting in Maastricht, the University Maastricht becomes well-known among the star players of global gravity research, which places our city and our university at the center of this revolutionary research. Besides that, the researchers get to know Limburg as a candidate for the location of the Einstein Telescope, the dream detector of gravitational waves that we want to have operational in 2030. This choice will be made in 2021. If the detector will be built near Maastricht, it will lead to a continuous influx of top scientists in Zuid-Limburg and the region will become a new epicenter of international physics research.
5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?
The Maastricht Convention Bureau played an important role in arranging our budget for organizing the LVC meeting. Besides that, they were one of the first parties to promise us help to achieve our goal, which gave us a lot of confidence, and gave other donors an impulse to join too. Once someone has confidence in you, more will follow. And so it happened! Therefore, we are grateful to the Maastricht Convention Bureau for their help!