Szabolcs Márka

2011 Regional Award Winner — Faculty

Szabolcs Márka

Current Position:
Walter O. LeCroy Jr. Associate Professor of Physics

Columbia University

Astrophysics & Cosmology

Recognized for: Studying the birth and death of black holes and the resulting ripples in space time.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Astrophysics, Gravitational Waves, Biophysics, BioOptics, Neuroscience


  • PhD, Physics, Vanderbilt University
  • Diploma, Physics, Kossuth Lajos University, Hungary

The goal of Dr. Marka's research is to detect the gravitational waves of cosmic origin which would allow researchers to study cosmic processes and objects that are not possible to see through today's technology.  At his lab in Columbia University, he is working on projects that will strengthen both the reach and reliability of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) which was funded by the National Science Foundation to aid in the detection and measurement of cosmic gravitational waves.

When not studying the birth and death of cosmic black holes, Dr. Marka is trying to combat and eventually eradicate malaria through light barriers designed to block malaria transmission. Dr. Marka and collaborators also invented a microscopic optical touchscreen device that allows the capture the patterns of locomotion of mosquitoes, fruit flies, and other animals. He received a Grand Challenges in Global Health grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help fund his BioOptics research. A video of him discussing this work is available online.

"I strongly believe that beyond seeking fundamental science discoveries, scientists should also invest in bettering human life here on Earth through utilizing their experience and creativity. The direct discovery and regular detections of gravitational waves will open unprecedented opportunities to study the hidden side of the Universe and the state-of-the art research experience gained will enable us to create innovative solutions to global health problems and neuroscience in general."

Key Publications:

  1. Bartos I., Haiman Z., Kocsis B., Márka S. G2 can Illuminate the Black Hole Population near the Galactic Center. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2013
  2. Mendes C., Bartos I., Akay T., Márka S., Mann R. Quantification of gait parameters in freely walking wild type and sensory deprived Drosophila melanogaster. eLife, 2013
  3. Márka S. Exploring the birth and death of black holes and other creatures, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2012

In the Media: 

Astrophysicist Takes on World's Deadliest Bug. Bloomberg TV. April 11, 2014
Black hole bonanza possible as immense gas cloud passes. BBC News. 31 May 2013
Using a Light Barrier to Repel Mosquitoes. Forbes. November 1, 2011