Katie Bouman

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Katie Bouman
Bouman speaking about the Event Horizon Telescope in 2019
Katherine Louise Bouman

1989 (age 33–34)
Alma mater
Known forCHIRP algorithm
Scientific career
ThesisExtreme Imaging via Physical Model Inversion: Seeing Around Corners and Imaging Black Holes
Doctoral advisorWilliam T. Freeman

Katherine Louise Bouman (/ˈbmən/;[1] born 1989) is an American engineer and computer scientist working in the field of computer imagery. She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP), and was a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team that captured the first image of a black hole.[2][3][4]

The California Institute of Technology, which hired Bouman as an assistant professor in June 2019, awarded her a named professorship in 2020.[5][6] In 2021, asteroid 291387 Katiebouman was named after her.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Bouman grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana. Her father, Charles Bouman, is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at Purdue University.[8]

As a high school student, Bouman conducted imaging research at Purdue University. She graduated from West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School in 2007.[8]

Bouman studied electrical engineering at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. She earned her master's degree (2013) and doctoral degree (2017) in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).[9]

External videos
video icon How to take a picture of a black hole, Katie Bouman, TEDx talk, April 28, 2017, 12m, 51s[1]

At MIT, she was a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).[10][11] This group also worked closely with MIT's Haystack Observatory and with the Event Horizon Telescope.[12][13] She was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Her master's thesis, Estimating Material Properties of Fabric through the Observation of Motion,[14] was awarded the Ernst Guillemin Award for best Master's Thesis in electrical engineering.[15] Her Ph.D. dissertation, Extreme imaging via physical model inversion: seeing around corners and imaging black holes, was supervised by William T. Freeman.[11] Prior to receiving her doctoral degree, Bouman delivered a TEDx talk, How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole, which explained algorithms that could be used to capture the first image of a black hole.[1][16][17]

Research and career[edit]

After earning her doctorate, Bouman joined Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow on the Event Horizon Telescope Imaging team.[18][19][20]

A blurry photo of a supermassive black hole in M87.
The first direct image of a black hole, imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope and published in April 2019

Bouman joined Event Horizon Telescope project in 2013.[21] She led the development of an algorithm for imaging black holes, known as Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP).[17][22][23] CHIRP inspired image validation procedures used in acquiring the first image of a black hole in April 2019,[24] and Bouman played a significant role in the project[2][25] by verifying images, selecting parameters for filtering images taken by the Event Horizon Telescope,[26] and participating in the development of a robust imaging framework that compared the results of different image reconstruction techniques.[27] Her group is analyzing the Event Horizon Telescope's images to learn more about general relativity in a strong gravitational field.[28]

Bouman received significant media attention after a photo, showing her reaction to the detection of the black hole shadow in the EHT images, went viral.[2][29][30][31] Some people in the media and on the Internet misleadingly implied that Bouman was a "lone genius" behind the image.[32][33] However, Bouman herself repeatedly noted that the result came from the work of a large collaboration, showing the importance of teamwork in science.[2][33][34] Bouman also became the target of online harassment, to the extent that her colleague Andrew Chael made a statement on Twitter criticizing "awful and sexist attacks on my colleague and friend", including attempts to undermine her contributions by crediting him solely with work accomplished by the team.[25][27][35][36]

Bouman joined the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as an assistant professor in June 2019, where she works on new systems for computational imaging using computer vision and machine learning.[28][37][38] She is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering and astronomy as well as a Rosenberg Scholar.[39] Bouman received a named professorship at Caltech in 2020.[6] In 2021, Bouman was awarded the Royal Photographic Society Progress Medal and Honorary Fellowship.[40]


She was recognized as one of the BBC's 100 women of 2019.[41]


  1. ^ a b c Bouman, Katie. "Katie Bouman | Speaker | TED". www.ted.com. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Mervosh, Sarah (April 11, 2019). "How Katie Bouman Accidentally Became the Face of the Black Hole Project". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Anon (April 11, 2019). "The woman behind first black hole image". bbc.co.uk. BBC News.
  4. ^ (April 2019) Focus on the First Event Horizon Telescope Results — the series of articles in The Astrophysical Journal Letters which report the EHT results.
  5. ^ "Katie Bouman Joins EAS and CMS". cms.caltech.edu. April 11, 2019. Archived from the original on January 12, 2021. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Stevens, Chester (October 9, 2020). "Caltech Faculty Receive Named Professorships". Caltech. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  7. ^ "WGSBN Bulletin Archive". Working Group Small Body Nomenclature. June 16, 2021. Retrieved June 17, 2021. (Bulletin #3)
  8. ^ a b Bangert, Dave (April 10, 2019). "That first-ever black hole picture? A West Lafayette grad played a big part". Journal & Courier. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "Katie Bouman aka Katherine L. Bouman". users.cms.caltech.edu. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  10. ^ Hardesty, Larry (June 6, 2016). "A method to image black holes". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Bouman, Katherine L. (2017). Extreme imaging via physical model inversion : seeing around corners and imaging black holes (Ph.D. thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/113998.
  12. ^ Chu, Jennifer (April 10, 2019). "Working together as a 'virtual telescope,' observatories around the world produce first direct images of a black hole". news.mit.edu. MIT News. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  13. ^ Fletcher, Seth (2018). Einstein's shadow : a black hole, a band of astronomers, and the quest to see the unseeable. New York, NY: Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-06-231202-0. OCLC 1055204305.
  14. ^ Bouman, Katherine Louise (2013). Estimating the material properties of fabric through the observation of motion (S.M. thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/84905. OCLC 868903611. icon of an open green padlock
  15. ^ "EECS Celebrates – Fall 2014 Awards | MIT EECS". www.eecs.mit.edu. November 18, 2014. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  16. ^ Guarino, Ben (April 10, 2019). "Algorithms gave us the black hole picture. She's the 29-year-old scientist who helped create them". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Chappel, Bill (April 10, 2019). "Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole". NPR. Retrieved April 10, 2019. Some of that work took place in Massachusetts, at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, where computer scientist Katie Bouman 'led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole,' the lab said Wednesday.
  18. ^ "Katie Bouman". bhi.fas.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  19. ^ "Professor Katie Bouman (Caltech): " Imaging a Black Hole with the Event Horizon Telescope"". Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  20. ^ "Project bids to make black hole movies". BBC News. February 16, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  21. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (April 11, 2019). "Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  22. ^ Bouman, Katherine L.; Johnson, Michael D.; Zoran, Daniel; Fish, Vincent L.; Doeleman, Sheperd S.; Freeman, William T. (2016). "Computational Imaging for VLBI Image Reconstruction". 2016 IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR). pp. 913–922. arXiv:1512.01413. doi:10.1109/CVPR.2016.105. hdl:1721.1/103077. ISBN 978-1-4673-8851-1. S2CID 9085016.
  23. ^ "Scientist superstar Katie Bouman designed algorithm for black hole image". phys.org. April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  24. ^ @MIT_CSAIL (April 12, 2019). "Clarification" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ a b Elfrink, Tim (April 12, 2019). "Trolls hijacked a scientist's image to attack Katie Bouman. They picked the wrong astrophysicist". Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  26. ^ Lou, Michelle; Ahmed, Saeed (April 10, 2019). "That image of a black hole you saw everywhere today? Thank this grad student for making it possible". cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Chael, Andrew [@thisgreyspirit] (April 11, 2019). "(3/7) the work of many others who wrote code, debugged, and figured out how to use the code on challenging EHT data. With a few others, Katie also developed the imaging framework that rigorously tested all three codes and shaped the entire paper (iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab0e85);" (Tweet). Retrieved May 9, 2019 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ a b "Katherine L. (Katie) Bouman". caltech.edu. California Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  29. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (April 11, 2019). "Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo". The Guardian. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  30. ^ Lou, Michelle; Ahmed, Saeed (April 12, 2019). "To undermine Katherine Bouman's role in the black hole photo, trolls held up a white man as the real hero – until he fought back". CNN. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  31. ^ Collins, Ben (April 12, 2019). "The first picture of a black hole made Katie Bouman an overnight celebrity. Then internet trolls descended". NBC News. Retrieved April 13, 2019.
  32. ^ Koren, Marina (April 15, 2019). "The Dark Saga of Katie Bouman". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  33. ^ a b Smith, Kiona N. (April 14, 2019). "We Should Listen To Katie Bouman: Science Takes Teamwork". Forbes. Retrieved April 22, 2019. One section of the internet made Bouman a figurehead without her consent and often over her own protests, while another section subjected her to harassment and virulent backlash.
  34. ^ Perkins, Robert (April 15, 2019). "How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole". Caltech News. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  35. ^ Griggs, Mary Beth (April 13, 2019). "Online trolls are harassing a scientist who helped take the first picture of a black hole". The Verge. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  36. ^ Joyce, Kathleen (April 13, 2019). "Internet trolls attempted to discredit Katie Bouman's work on black hole project". Fox News. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  37. ^ "Imaging the Invisible". www.ee.columbia.edu. Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  38. ^ Perkins, Robert (July 2, 2019). "Seeing Farther and Deeper: An Interview with Katie Bouman". Caltech. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  39. ^ "Caltech Computing + Mathematical Sciences | Katherine L. Bouman". Caltech Computing + Mathematical Sciences. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  40. ^ Morgan, Kathleen (December 1, 2021). "Katie Bouman: beyond the black hole". RPS. Royal Photographic Society. Retrieved January 7, 2022. Just as your brain may be able to recognise a song being played on a broken piano if there's enough functioning keys, we can design algorithms to intelligently fill in the EHT's missing information and reveal the underlying black hole image
  41. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2019: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. October 15, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2022.

External links[edit]