Eric Poisson

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Eric Poisson
Born Montreal, Quebec
Fields Gravitational physics
Institutions University of Guelph, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Alma mater Laval University, University of Alberta
Doctoral advisor Werner Israel
Notable awards Herzberg Medal (2005)

Eric Poisson is a Canadian, award winning physicist specializing in the theory of black holes. Poisson is a professor at the University of Guelph as well as an affiliate member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Rimouski and Quebec City. He obtained his BSc from Laval University in Quebec City, and his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. He received his doctorate in 1991 under the supervision of Werner Israel.


Poisson's doctoral dissertation was on the concept of mass inflation (not to be confused with cosmological inflation), which he pioneered with Israel.[1] Prior to the understanding of mass inflation, it was believed that wormholes into other universes would be found inside some black holes. Mass inflation closes off these wormholes in realistic black holes.

After completing his doctorate, Poisson spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow in Kip Thorne's research group at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena. During this period, he became interested in the gravitational wave signatures that black hole systems might produce. Such signatures are crucial for the operation of gravitational wave detectors which are being developed such as LIGO. This work continued for a subsequent year spent with Clifford Will at Washington University in St. Louis.

His research now focuses on gravitational self-force, which is the force on a body moving through a gravitational field arising from the mass and energy of the body itself. This self-force is expected to play a crucial role in understanding the motion of a stellar mass black hole orbiting and eventually spiraling into a supermassive black hole such as those that reside at the centers of galaxies. These astronomical systems will be of special interest to space-based gravitational wave detectors such as Laser Interferometer Space Antennae when they are built, because they will allow precision measurements of the gravitational field of a black hole for the first time.

Awards and honours[edit]


  • A Relativist's Toolkit, The Mathematics of Black-Hole Mechanics, Cambridge University Press (June 7, 2004)


  • Gravity: Newtonian, Post-Newtonian, Relativistic (with Clifford M. Will), Cambridge University Press (May 31, 2014)


  1. ^ a b "2005 CAP Herzberg Medal will be awarded to Dr Eric Poisson". Canadian Association of Physicists. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  2. ^ Whiting, B (7 December 2004). "A Relativist's Toolkit, The Mathematics of Black-Hole Mechanics (Book Review)". Classical and Quantum Gravity. 21 (23): 5675–5675. doi:10.1088/0264-9381/21/23/B01. 

External links[edit]