Texas Tech University

Ra Inta, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Email: Ra.Inta@ttu.edu

Phone: (806) 834-7912

Office: 122 Experimental Sciences Building (ESB)

Ph.D. Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia (2007)

B.Sc.(Hons) Physics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1999)

Photo Description

Research Interests

My current work involves the vibrations of (and travelling through) space-time, known as gravitational waves, as part of the LIGO collaboration.

I'm also interested in advanced signal processing methods, particularly those related to sparse methods.

I like playing with computers and have constructed novel computing systems.

Prof. Benjamin Owen and I recently looked for continuous gravitational waves from nine young supernova remnants in LIGO's Sixth Science Run (S6). Here's a graphic representing their relative positions in the Galaxy, and the gravitational wave upper limits we established for each:

Galactic positions of the supernova remnants we searched, all of which are very close to the galactic plane. The yellow dot represents the Solar System. Two possible locations for Vela Jr. were used. Hover your mouse over the labels to see the figure for each respective search; click on each plot to see a larger version. (Image modified with permission from NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/R. Hurt.)


Enough people, at first blush, have trouble tracking my career trajectory, so I made a graphical representation to help:

Ra's career trajectory. It's all about waves...

It's all about waves...

My Honours' project involved modelling how charge accumulates in a quantum device known as a resonant tunnel diode. This was performed at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, under the supervision of Prof. Mike Reid and Prof. Simon Brown.

The title of my PhD project was "The Acoustics of the Steel-String Guitar" (PDF download---yes, it was as fun as it sounds). This was done at the Music Acoustics Laboratory, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), under the supervision of Prof. Joe Wolfe, Prof. John R. Smith and Gerard Gilet. During this project, I learned how to make guitars. I then applied this to making three steel-string (folk) guitars to be as similar as possible---except for the wood species on the sound-board (top). I measured the vibratory properties of the important components that went into the three instruments, and measured the vibratory and acoustic behaviour of the instruments at various stages of construction. I also did some work on the violin, trying to determine whether there is anything behind the anecdotes that they 'improve' with ageing and/or playing.

I then applied the techniques I'd developed to characterise vibrations in wood to manipulate the behaviour of termites using their vibratory communication systems, with Prof. Joseph Lai and Dr Theo Evans and the CSIRO Termite Group. This was a joint project between UNSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy and CSIRO, so I would often get asked "what do termites have to do with the Defence Force?". It turns out that these supposedly dumb insects are surprisingly sophisticated engineers, able to determine material properties of their food using vibrations, as well as using them for complex social communication. This work led to a patent to stop termites eating wood, by using their own vibratory signals! Yes, it sounds weird, but it works.

Selected Publications

(Hover over an article to see an editorial summary of each)

Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger.
Aasi J. et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116(061102) (2016)

Searches for continuous gravitational waves from nine young supernova remnants.
Aasi J. et al. Ap.J.8131 (2015)

The 'Chimera': An Off-The-Shelf CPU/GPGPU/FPGA Hybrid Computing Platform.
Inta, R., Bowman, D. J. and Scott, S. M. International Journal of Reconfigurable Computing2012(241439), 10pp. (2012)

Implementation and testing of the first prompt search for gravitational wave transients with electromagnetic counterparts.
Abadie, J. et al. A&A539(A124) (2012)

Foraging choice and replacement reproductives facilitate invasiveness in drywood termites.
Evans, T.A., Inta, R. and Lai, J.C.S. Biological Invasions131579-1587 (2011)

Termites eavesdrop to avoid competitors.
Evans, T.A., Inta, R., Lai, J.C.S., Prueger, S., Foo, N.W., Fu, E.W. and Lenz, M. Proc. Roy. Soc. B 276(1675), pp.4035-4041 (2009)

Effect of Vibratory Soldier Alarm Signals on the Foraging Behavior of Subterranean Termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae).
Inta, R., Evans, T.A. and Lai, J.C.S. J. Economic Entomology102(1), pp.121-126 (2009)

Foraging vibration signals attract foragers and identify food size in the drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus.
T.A. Evans, R. Inta, J.C.S. Lai and M. Lenz Insectes Sociaux54(4):374-382 (2007)

What do vibrations have to do with termites' food choice?.
Inta, R. Evans, T.A., Lai, J.C.S. and Lenz, M. Acoustics Australia35(3), pp.73-77 (2007)

Termites live in a material world: exploration of their ability to differentiate between food sources.
Inta, R., Lai, J.C.S., Fu, E.W. and Evans, T.A. J. Roy. Soc. Interface, 4(15), pp.735-744 (2007)

Measurement of the effect on violins of ageing and playing.
Inta, R., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. Acoustics Australia33 pp.25-29 (2005)


Selected Research Presentations (Primary Author)

Acceleration of parallel algorithms using a heterogeneous computing system
NIMS-SNU-Sogang Joint Workshop on Stellar Dynamics and Gravitational-wave Astrophysics, Seoul, South Korea (talk; 2012)

New Applications of Sparse Methods in Physics
20th Australian Institute of Physics Congress, Sydney, Australia (talk; 2012)

Heterogeneous hardware acceleration of parallel algorithms
20th Australian Institute of Physics Congress, Sydney, Australia (poster; 2012)
(Warning: 10MB download!)

Sparse methods for improving gravitational wave detection
Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Workshop (GWPAW2012), Hannover, Germany (poster; 2012)

Sparse methods for improving gravitational wave detection
Astronomical Data Analysis VII (ADA7), Cargese, Corsica (talk; 2012)

Compressive sampling techniques for improving the localisation of gravitational wave burst events
6th Australasian Congress for General Relativity and Gravitation, Queenstown, New Zealand (talk; 2012)

Listening for Thunder Beyond the Clouds
4th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing (UCC 2011), Melbourne, Australia (talk; 2011)

An FPGA/GPU hybrid platform for solving hard computational problems
4th eResearch Australiasia Conference, Gold Coast, Australia (poster; 2010)


Selected Invited/Guest Presentations

Why Does a Guitar Need a Body to Make Sound?
Texas Tech Society of Physics Students Annual Banquet, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA (2016)

The Death of Stars
Undergraduate Astronomy Class, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA (2016)

Gravitational waves: a New Era in Astrophysics
Physics and Astronomy Colloquium, University of Canterbury (Christchurch) and University of Victoria (Wellington), New Zealand (2016)
(Warning: 10MB download!)

The vibratory world of termites
School of Physics Colloquium, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2009)

Is a violin like wine?
Australian Institute of Physics (South Australia), Adelaide, Australia (2005)

Public Outreach

Plenty of studies show that scientists---especially physicists---could do a much better job at interacting with, and communicating their research to, the public. I'm quite concerned about this, and do my best to reach out to the wider community. This is a hard problem!

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