Math and Physics Department welcomes new professor with small town roots and big research


Caixia Gao, one of the newest additions to the math and physics department at CSU-Pueblo, may prefer a small town atmosphere for living, but her personal scholarly research involves something much larger: the expansion of the universe.

Gao has been teaching physics labs at the undergraduate level since 2007.

“I want to be a professor who can teach physics courses in such a way that all my students fall in love with physics,” she said.

Currently, Gao is instructing two courses: conceptual physics, which involves aspects such as light, energy and atoms, and a general physics II course for science and engineering majors.

One of the goals she has as a professor is “being able to inspire students,” she said.

In addition to teaching physics, Gao has conducted and made significant strides in her own research on the topic of gravity waves.

“Part of my research is to test the possibility of graviton having a nonzero mass. Graviton is the particle of gravitational waves, like photon is the particle of light waves,” Gao explained.  “I studied effects of nonzero graviton mass on blackholes and the expansion of our universe.”

One of the biggest challenges Gao faced during her research is the sensitivity of graviton.

“If the graviton do have a nonzero mass, it will be very, very, very tiny.  Detecting gravitational waves is already a challenge for experimental scientists, to find the mass of graviton is even much harder. It requires even greater sensitivity,” she said.

On March 17, Gao gave a talk regarding her research to the CSU-Pueblo astronomy club titled “From Graviton to the Big Bang.”

Gao received her Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in General Relativity and Cosmology. Her family currently lives in Denver.

“I like Colorado, both the view and weather are very similar to my hometown,” she said. “I personally grew up and enjoy the atmosphere of a small town therefore I am looking forward to a career in Colorado State University-Pueblo.”