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**UNC-CH Physics and Astronomy Preliminary Defense**

Zachary Nasipak

**“Extreme-mass-ratio black hole binaries: A scalar self-force model on Kerr”**

The era of gravitational wave astronomy has dawned. As more gravitational wave detectors come online, such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), we will have added opportunities to explore compact relativistic astrophysical systems. The main focus of my research is to understand the dynamics of extreme mass ratio inspirals (EMRIs), a class of gravitational wave sources that will be observed by LISA. EMRIs are black hole binary systems where the smaller hole is at least 10,000 times less massive than its primary companion. The motion of the smaller body is determined by the gravitational self-force. Using the self-force to calculate evolutionary models of EMRIs is essential for supporting and interpreting gravitational wave observations. My thesis project will focus on improving the analytical and computational methods that are involved in self-force calculations by exploring the scalar self-force (SSF) model problem. This work supports the larger research effort of modeling EMRIs efficiently and accurately so that their predicted motion can be used for gravitational wave science.