West Lafayette native makes history

Thanks to a West Lafayette native, scientists around the world are celebrating the first image of a black hole.

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 6:34 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 9:16 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind (WLFI)—It was the work of a West Lafayette native that led to the first image ever made of a black hole.

"It is a shock. It is like amazing, that it's just a local person,” said West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School Science Teacher Phil Pusey.

West Lafayette's Katie Bouman’s passion for science has now impacted the world.

"Am I shocked in the fact that it was Katie? Not at all,” said Pusey.

Bouman made history on Wednesday creating an algorithm that made it possible to produce the very first image of a black hole.

"It was a reaffirmation of what I see hard work, attention to detail, and discipline does,” said Pusey.

Phil Pusey was Bouman's science teacher at West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School. He said even then, he knew her passion would bring her great success.

"She was doing her thing,” said Pusey. “Which is, if it was writing a lab report it was thorough, it was detailed, never missed putting units on the end of her numbers.”

While in high school Bouman furthered her research with the help of Purdue Biology Professor Cynthia Stauffacher.

"It’s no surprise that with her mathematical skills that she is succeeding in this way with this fascinating project,” said Stauffacher.

Professor Stauffacher is also the Director of the Lafayette Regional Science Fair. In 2005 Bauman took a mathematical project to the International Science Fair that Stauffacher sponsored.

"Then you see later that they've achieved something truly dramatic, world stage kind of science,” said Stauffacher. “That's just, it's the most exciting thing a teacher can see."

In 2016 Bouman hosted a TedTalk explaining the process it would take in order to snap-shot an image of a black hole. In 2019, she's explaining how it feels to make history.

"I always tell my kids how much I love them,” said Pusey. “So, I told my kids today, I hope that Katie felt that when she was in my classroom. So I would like to say, Katie I am so proud and I can't imagine a better person.”

Bouman will start teaching as an assistant professor at California Institute of Technology in the fall. 

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