Last Updated: 06 Dec 2017 (it's a work in progress)

Research Interests

Obtaining experimental evidence about fundamental properties of space-time


Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Ph.D., Physics, August 2016

Research conducted at the University of Chicago and Fermi National Laboratory

Advisors: Andreas Berlind , Stephan Meyer (University of Chicago)

M.S., Physics, May 2013

Fisk University, Nashville, TN

M.A., Physics, December 2011

Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program, Astronomy

University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

B.Sc., Physics, May 2007


National Academy of Sciences Ford Dissertation Fellow, 2015

URA Fermilab Visiting Scholars Program, 2014 - present

National Academy of Sciences Ford Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable Mention

Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics Visting Pre-Doctoral Student, 2012-present

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, 2011-present

Kahuewai Ola Fellowship -- Scholarship Native Hawaiian Students in STEM, 2003-2006

Honors and Awards

APS Conference Travel Grant Recipient, 2014

Gordon Research Conference Travel Grant Recipient, 2012

Fisk Research Day Second Place Poster Award, 2010

SACNAS Conference Travel Grant recipient, 2010

Women in Astronomy Conference Travel Grant Recipient, 2009

Kama'aina Award -- Outstanding local athlete -- UH Water Polo, 2006

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Scholar Athlete Award, 2006

National Collegiate Athletic Association Scholar Athlete Award, 2006

Professional Experience

PhD Experience

Phd Candidate (Advisors: Andreas Berlind, Stephan Meyer ) 2011 - 2016

Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Fermi National Laboratory, Batavia, IL

Contributed to the construction, commissioning, operations, analysis and writing for the Fermilab Holometer - an experiment that utilizes gravitational wave detector technology to test the fundamental structure of space-time. It consists of a pair of 40 m Michelson interferometers reaching a precision level of $10^{-21}$ m at MHz frequencies. The Holometer team consists of 8 senior scientists and 4 graduate students.

  • Analysis & Writing (Present): Leading analysis on a narrow-line gravitational wave search using the 150 hours of science data taken from July - August 2015. I am hunting for sources such as primordial black holes and cosmic strings that radiate gravitational radiation in the 1-10 MHz band. Specifically, I am searching for any peaks above the background noise. If they are caused by an astrophysical source then they will have a temporal modulation pattern that is consistent with the instrument becoming more and less sensitive to the source as it scans over the sky. I am contributing to the completion of our 4 science papers and instrument paper.
  • Operations (2014-Present): Lead many of the early observation runs where I identified numerous problems either with the interferometers, software designed to run them or software designed to take the data. Solving these problems allowed the machine to run smoothly during data taking periods. I collected over 30\% of our science data. I contributed extensively to documenting how to run and trouble- shoot the various subsystems. I developed the operations run plan, which entails all the necessary checks operators must perform before taking science data. I developed the shift log which each of the operators contribute to during the runs. I trained our collaborators on how to run the interferometers.
  • Commissioning (2012-2014): Designed and lead table top optical experiments to test potential solutions for deployment in the main optical layout of the 40 meter interferometers. I studied the use of optical fibers as an output mode cleaner for improving the amount of signal light that hits the detectors. Designed and tested the use of blackbody radiation as a way of characterizing the optical response of the detection system (from the detectors through the data acquisition system). I implemented blackbody sources for signal detector characterization during the detector electronics R\&D phase. Utilizing the noise properties of this source currently is a central element of the Holometer calibration procedure.
  • Construction (2011-2012): Contributed to the assembly of the 160 m ultra-high vacuum system. I designed, constructed, and characterized new wall mounts for injecting the input laser into the vacuum system. Deployed a heating system for temperature regulation for the optical vibration isolation stages to keep a consistent temperature through the seasons.

Masters Experience

Research Asst. (Advisors : John Stauffer, Keivan Stassun) June 2009 - Aug 2011

California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA

Fisk University & Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN

Quantified empirical and theoretical disparities in the 100 Myr open cluster, the Pleiades\\

Research Assistant (Advisor : John R. Stauffer) Summer 2009

NASA/IPAC/NexSCI Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED) \hfill Pasadena, California \\

Developed software to input stellar parameters into NStED

Undergraduate \& Post-Bacclaureate Experience

Research Assistant (Advisors: Malcolm Fridlund, Stefania Carpano) Jan-Aug 2008

European Space Agency, Noordwijk, Netherlands

Tested the efficiency of extra-solar planet detection teams using the space-based telescope (CoRoT).

NSF Research Experience (Advisor: Suzanne Aigrain) Summer 2007

Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Identified eclipsing binary candidates in Super-WASP and 2MASS for follow-up observations

NSF Research Experience (Advisor: Paul H.I. Coleman) Summer 2006

Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

Investigated large scale galaxy clustering in the Hubble Deep Field.


Kamai, B. L. Published June 2017

Testing Fundamental Properties of Space with the Fermilab Holometer

Journal of Physics Conference Series

The Holometer Collaboration (Kamai, B.L.) Submitted March 2017

Interferometric Constraints on Quantum Geometrical Shear Noise Correlations

Classical and Quantum Geometry

The Holometer Collaboration (Kamai, B.L.*lead author) Published March 2017

MHz Gravitational Wave Constraints with Decameter Michelson Interferometers

Physical Review D

The Holometer Collaboration (Kamai, B.L.) Published February 2017

The Holometer : An Instrument to Probe Planckian Quantum Geometry

Classical and Quantum Geometry

The Holometer Collaboration (Kamai, B.L.) December 2015

Search for Space-Time Correlations from the Planck Scale with the Fermilab Holometer

Physical Review Letters

Kamai, B.L., Fred J., Stauffer, J.R., Stassun, K.G. Published June 2014

New BVIc photometry of low-mass Pleiades stars : Exploring the Effects of Rotation on Broadband Colors

The Astronomical Journal

Kamai, B. L. Published May 2011

New BVIc photometeric catalog of 348 low-mass Pleiades members

Fisk University, Masters Thesis


"Employing the Holometer as a Gravitational wave detector"

2016, Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics Graduate Student Symposium, University of Chicago

"Hunting for MHz gravitational waves with the Fermilab Holometer"

2016, American Physical Society April Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah

"The Fermilab Holometer as a Gravitational wave antenna"

2015, Midwest Relativity Meeting, Northwestern University

"Hunting for new clues about space-time using the Fermilab Holometer"

2015, Conference of Ford Fellows, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

"The Fermilab Holometer : An experiment to hunt for Planckian noise"

2015, Invited Speaker, California Institute of Technology

"The Fermilab Holometer : An experiment to hunt for a new fundamental noise"

2014, Speaker, Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Research Symposium

"Signal Verification with Blackbody Photons for the Fermilab Holometer"

2014, American Physical Society April Meeting

"Physics at the Fringe : A Status Report on the Fermilab Holometer"

2013, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Seminar

"Fermilab Holometer : Probing the Planck Scale"

2013, American Astronomical Society Winter Meeting

"Pleiades : Radical "Teenage" Stars in an Open Cluster"

2010, Fisk University Research Day

"New BVIc Photometry for the Pleiades"

2010, American Astronomical Society Winter Meeting

"Conditional Density Analysis of the Hubble Deep Field"

2007, American Astronomical Society Winter Meeting

Mentoring Experience

Fisk-Vanderbilt Peer Mentoring Program 2010 - 2012

Alice Griffeth -- University of Chicago Undergraduate Winter 2012

Bryan Demapan -- Fisk Graduate, Co-advised with Lauren Palladino Fall 2012

Teresa Monsue -- Fisk Graduate 2011-2012

E'lisa Lee -- University of Hawaii, Hilo, Undergraduate 2011-2012

Nitza Santiago-Figueroa -- Fisk Graduate, Co-advised with Lauren Palladino 2010-2011

Outreach and Public Understanding of Science

National Advisory Board Member, APS Bridge Program February 2016

American Physical Society Headquarters, Washington DC

Review and report on the operations of the national effort to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to under-represented minorities

Co-Leader, Yerkes Winter Institute, December 2015

Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, WI

Taught over 20 high school students the physics behind wind pipes and led them through designing and building their own

Invited Panel Speaker, "Nuts and Bolts for Bridge Programs: Key Components and Practical Elements" October 2015

American Physical Society Bridge Program Conference, Florida International University

Discussed with professors at universities around the country about things to consider when developing a bridge program

Founder, Graduate Student Symposium June 2015

Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, Chicago, IL

Initiated the first research symposium of 6 graduate student presentations for the department

Speaker, KICP Senior Citizen Lecture Series April 2015

79th Street Senior Center, Chicago, IL

Engaged over 10 senior citizens in recent developments in cosmology over the last 90 years

Vanderbilt Representative, Catalyzing Advocacy for Science and Engineering Workshop April 2015

American Association for the Advancement of Science Headquarters, Washington, DC

Advocated for STEM needs on Capitol Hill

Guest writer, Women in Astronomy March 2015

Women in Astronomy blog

Join the Party" -- An article about engaging in the STEM environment

Mentor, Random Hacks of Kindness February 2015

Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL

Provided STEM guidance to 15 middle schoolers who worked with a non-profit organization

Holometer Spokesperson, "Science For The Win" from WRLR January 2015

Fermi National Laboratory, Batavia, IL

Lead a tour of the Holometer to a reporter from "Science For The Win"

Mentor, Girls Do Hack November 2014

Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL

Mentored two high school girls through different STEM projects at the planetarium

Co-advocate for KICP-Fermilab shuttle September 2014

Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, Chicago, IL

Lead efforts to get a shuttle service for students, post-docs and professors between UChicago and Fermilab

Speaker, Computational Bootcamp - iPython Notebooks August 2014

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Taught incoming Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge students how to use iPython notebooks for research

Speaker, KICP Senior Citizen Lecture Series May 2014

Renaissance Court, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL

Engaged senior citizens in recent developments in cosmology over the last 90 years

Speaker, Conversations with Astronomers November 2014, June 2014,February 2014, November 2013, March 2013, Dec 2012

Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL

Shared new research to over 100 museum attendees using the Space Visualization Lab

Presenter, Science Works - Cool Jobs, Hot Careers! October 2013

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL

Discussed physics and astronomy career opportunities with 100s of K-12 students and parents

Co-Leader, Expanding Your Horizons April 2013

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Inspired middle school girls to pursue STEM careers with personal stories and activities

Organizer, Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Underground Consortium 2009-2012

Fisk University and Vanderbilt University , Nashville, TN

Created, organized and led initiatives to improve the graduate student experience

Referree, Young Scientist Journal January 2012

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Refereed high school student research submitted to a journal

Volunteer, TWISTER February 2012

Adventure Science Center, Nashville, TN

Developed a hands-on activity to encouraged over 30 high school girls to pursue a STEM career

Invited Speaker, TWISTER February 2012

Adventure Science Center, Nashville, TN

Shared my personal experience to over 30 high school girls to encourage STEM careers

Fellow, Portal to the Public 2011 - 2012

Adventure Science Center, (ASC), Nashville, TN

Developed general public laboratory for use at the museum

Guest Writer, Spectrum 2011

Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy

"A Student's Experiences at the 2010 Annual Meeting of SACNAS"

Fellow, Scientist in the Classroom Fellow 2010-2011

Center for Science Outreach, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Taught general science labs each week to 150 7th grade students at Rosa Parks Middle School in Nashville, TN

Guest Writer, Spitzer Space Telescope Team Blog 2010

California Institute of Technology

"Exoplanet Fireflies and their Stellar Spotlights"

Ask an Astronomer, Bluebird On the Mountain May 2011, April 2009

Dyer Observatory, Nashville, TN

Explained astronomical concepts to 200 members of the public who toured the observatory

Speaker, Career Opportunities Dec 2009

Roosevelt High School, Honolulu, HI

Presented career opportunities in science to 40 high school junior and seniors

Professional Membership

American Physical Society (APS), Junior Member, 2014-Present

American Association for the Advancement of Society (AAAS), Junior Member, 2014-Present

Soc. of Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Am. in Science, Member, 2010-Present

American Astronomical Society (AAS), Junior Member 2009-Present


Hardware : Machine shop training, Electronics, Optics, Laser Operations

Software: Python, IDL, LaTex, SolidWorks, Powerpoint, Microsoft Office

Operating Systems: Mac OSX, Unix/Linux, Windows

Collaborating Researchers and Institutions

Dr. Andreas Berlind, Vanderbilt University : Co-thesis PhD advisor

Dr. Stephan S. Meyer, University of Chicago : Co-thesis PhD advisor and Holometer collaborator

Dr. Craig Hogan, University of Chicago and Fermilab : Spokesperson for the Holometer

Dr. Aaron Chou, Fermilab : P.I. of the Holometer

Dr. Chris Stoughton, Fermilab : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Rai Weiss, MIT : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Dick Gufstanson, University of Michigan : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Henry Glass, Fermilab : Holometer collaborator

Ray Tomlin, Fermilab : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Lee McCuller, University of Chicago : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Jonathan Richardson, University of Chicago : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Robert K. Lanza, University of Chicago : Holometer collaborator

Dr. Sam Waldman, SpaceX : Holometer Collaborator

Dr. Shane L. Larson, Northwestern University : Gravitational Wave collaborator

Dr. Keivan Stassun, Vanderbilt University : Pleiades research collaborator

Dr. John R. Stauffer, California Institute of Technology : Pleiades research collaborator

Dr. Frederick J. Vrba, U.S. Naval Observatory : Pleiades research collaborator

ORCID ID : 0000-0001-6521-9351