Alessandra Buonanno is the director of the “Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity” Department at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics since 2014. She studied physics in Pisa, and held faculty positions in Paris and at the University of Maryland, where she became full professor in 2010. She is a leading theorist in the field of gravitational-wave physics. Her work on waveform modeling was essential in the detection of gravitational waves from binary systems, and the physical interpretation of the signals. For her contributions to LIGO and Virgo discoveries, she was awarded several prizes, including the 2018 Leibniz prize, the most prestigious research prize in Germany.