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Celebrating Women's History Month: Katie Bouman

We're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting female scientists! Each Friday of the month on the blog (also featured on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn), we'll feature a new female scientist whom we have named one of our animal ambassadors after to honor them and allow our visitors to learn about scientists of all kinds. In this blog we are highlighting Katie Bouman; learn about her work and accomplishments below!



Katie Bouman is an American engineer and computer scientist working in the field of computer imagery. She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP), and was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole. The California Institute of Technology, which hired Bouman as an assistant professor in June 2019, awarded her a named professorship in 2020. In 2021, asteroid 291387 Katiebouman was named after her.


Katie studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. She earned her master's degree in 2013 and obtained a doctoral degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 2017 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT, she was a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). This group also worked closely with MIT's Haystack Observatory and with the Event Horizon Telescope. Her master's thesis, Estimating Material Properties of Fabric through the Observation of Motion, was awarded the Ernst Guillemin Award for best Master's Thesis in electrical engineering.


Katie joined the Event Horizon Telescope project in 2013. She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as CHIRP. CHIRP inspired image validation procedures used in acquiring the first image of a black hole in April 2019, and she played a significant role in the project by verifying images, selecting parameters for filtering images taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and participating in the development of a robust imaging framework that compared the results of different image reconstruction techniques. Katie received significant media attention after a photo, showing her reaction to the detection of the black hole shadow in the EHT images, went viral. She repeatedly noted that the result came from the work of a large collaboration, showing the importance of teamwork in science.


Interested in learning more about Katie Bouman? Visit http://users.cms.caltech.edu/~klbouman/! Come back every Friday in March to learn about other female scientists that our Animal Ambassadors are named after to honor them and allow our visitors to learn about scientists of all kinds.

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