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Previous issues of the newsletter are published below.


Name: Filippo Sala


Current position: Faculty


Affiliation: University of Bologna and INFN


Field of research: (Astro)Particle physics




 

What is your career trajectory to date?

2010-13 PhD in physics at Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, with a 6 months visit to LBNL Berkeley

2013-17 CNRS postdoc in Paris, first at IPhT (CEA-Saclay), then at LPTHE (Sorbonne U.)

2017-20 Junior staff at DESY Hamburg

2020-22 Permanent CNRS researcher at LPTHE Paris

2022- Assistant prof. at University of Bologna


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?

What is dark matter?

How does Nature work at length scales (much) smaller than a Fermi?


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I love the freedom, I love that I can spend a lot of time trying to satisfy some of my curiosities. I like that the questions that motivate my work go beyond our lifetime -both as individuals and as humanity-, they have somehow a universal value. I like that we frequently travel and meet fun open-minded people with very different backgrounds. I like that we have several chances to transmit our passion and knowledge to students and/or to the general public.


I dislike that I may well never know what lies beyond the current understanding of Nature at the smallest length scales. I dislike the bureaucratisation of our job, and the deep insecurity that is sometimes associated with our careers.


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?


I was most excited at the time of the 750 GeV diphoton bump: it was completely unexpected yet it was believable experimentally (clean final state, two independent detectors), and theoretically (not hard to work consistent models for it).


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?


I'd like to learn more about extreme astrophysical events, like AGNs, and their observable signals. A related skill (if you can call it such) would be to be able to work those signals out.


What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?

I look forward to fast progress on a high-energy muon collider, both in its feasibility and eventual funding. Coming to something that will deliver science sooner, I look forward to any data about unexplored territory, for this decade especially from high-energy cosmic rays and from the intensity frontier.


What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?

Lack of clear experimental evidence for more cracks in the Standard Model.


What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?

I can think of many: federating the scientific and training efforts of individuals and groups, being a collector of opportunities (jobs, visits, collaborations, conferences, schools, availability of public data), creating new ones, giving to theorists more weight in the scientific and public debates.


What’s your favorite food?

Hard to pick one! I love Italian food and definitely take advantage of having moved back to Italy, so I stay on what I'd like to have more: baguette tradition (I still haven't found decent ones here!) and croissant au beurre, soft French cheeses, good ramen.


Have you lived in a different European country than you do now? If so, would you like to tell us something about it, e.g. a fond memory or something you found surprising?


France and Germany. And I am lucky to have so many fond memories! From big music festivals to little parisian theaters, from afterwork climbing sessions with the DESY physicists to after-games parties with the rugby teammates in Paris.


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?

After a day of work I love playing with my kid and wife. I usually have to wait until the weekend to relax in other ways, like spending time in nature and doing sport, better if with friends.


If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?

I would be spending more time on challenges like sustainable energy and environment preservation and enhancement. I think I'd be working on anything between nuclear fusion/fission and, say, agricultural policies.


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?

Experiments telling us something more about how Nature works at smaller length scales.


What question would you have liked us to ask you, and what would you have responded?


What can we scientists do, beyond advancing and transmitting knowledge, to improve our societies? I suspect we could put more effort in making fact-based quantitative reasoning a necessary ingredient of the public debate and of policy making. Coming to which particular effort, I wish I had a precise answer! More education and outreach seem obvious, but how? And what else?










Name: Deyan Mihaylov


Current position: Postdoc


Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics


Field of research: Gravitational wave astronomy






 

What is your career trajectory to date?

Right now I am finishing my first post-doctoral position, before that I was a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, and before that I completed my higher education also in the United Kingdom. Soon I will be moving to the United States for my next academic position.


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?

Since the first direct detection of Gravitational Waves in 2016, the community has answered many questions which had been standing unanswered for decades. I suppose that the most exciting question which still has to be answered is whether Einstein's Theory of General Relativity will be proved valid when tested at all scales.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

The most enjoyable part of my work is the chance to produce something -- equation, data, graph, etc -- that has never been seen before by anyone.


Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?

I suppose I am proud of being able to quickly analyse text and data. On the other hand, reading and understanding graphical representation of data has proven handy on many occasions.


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?


I am part of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration, which unites thousands of scientists from numerous countries. The times I have been most excited in my career so far was seeing the entire collaboration contributing together to help advance science.


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?


I suppose that exploring how machine learning (a.k.a. artificial intelligence) can be utilised to help with my research would be a worthy endeavour for the next year, and a timely one too.


What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?

Gravitational Waves have been the source of a flurry of new results in recent years, but we expect to learn even more over the coming 2 decades, both with LIGO-type detectors, and also with the promising LISA mission. Apart from that, I am personally very excited to see more results from the Event Horizon Telescope and from the groups who are searching for exoplanets, especially potentially habitable ones.


What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?

I believe that science is best done in collaboration. Hence, organising conferences, workshops, and in general giving scientists the opportunity to congregate and talk to each other is perhaps the best driver of new ideas in any field of science -- theoretical astrophysics included. Some of my best ideas for projects were born out of interactions with scientists whom I had not interacted with before.


What’s your favorite food?

One that has been grown organically and prepared with patience.


Have you lived in a different European country than you do now? If so, would you like to tell us something about it, e.g. a fond memory or something you found surprising?


I was born in Bulgaria, where I lived until I was 18. The following 10 years I spent in the United Kingdom, where I obtained my higher education and earned my PhD. I now live in Germany, and have previously also spent long periods of time in Ireland and France.


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?

Listening to music, if possible live, or entertaining my friends with food and drinks.


Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?


Reading and playing a couple of musical instruments. I am an avid hiker and try to spend as much time as possible among nature, and have a penchant for repetitively putting one foot in front of the other over the course of long distances.


If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?

Perhaps another profession where analytics and deduction would be useful. Before I joined the academy, I considered becoming a police detective or an investigative journalist. Even earlier in my life, my dream was to become a pilot.


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?

Given that in 50 years my scientific career would be already over, I would be very happy to see a unified theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Alternatively, I would settle for a detailed explanation of why such theory cannot exist.


What question would you have liked us to ask you, and what would you have responded?


What is your prediction for the next big scientific breakthrough? My answer: detection of a stochastic gravitational wave background, most likely of astrophysical origin.







Name: Thomas Schwetz


Current position: Faculty


Affiliation: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology


Field of research: Theoretical astroparticle physics, neutrinos, dark matter




 

What is your career trajectory to date?

PhD at Univ. of Vienna; postdocs at TU Munich, SISSA Trieste, CERN; research position at MPIK Heidelberg; associate professor at Stockholm Univ.; since 2015 professor at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?

What is dark matter? What is the origin of neutrino mass?


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

It is amazing to have a job which is just about finding out how the Universe works. As a theoretical physicists there is lots of freedom in what to work on. This is something I like, but at the same time it comes with high responsability and puts big pressure on you. Challenges change as the career develops and one grows older - but the job is never boring and every week comes with different tasks than the previous one.


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?


The discovery of neutrino oscillations. Being part of this breakthrough, and being able to contribute with my own research was an amazing experience.


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?


Time management.


What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?

Cosmology should see finite neutrino masses very soon. If it does not, we need to understand something better in cosmology. Both cases are very exciting. I am most excited about advances we cannot think of right now. Particle physics seems to wait for a breakthrough, but currently nobody knows when and what.


What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?

I think community building is important in our field. Science is a global, collaborative effort, even if we tend to work in small groups in theoretical physics. Such a network can help to exchange ideas and make researchers know each other.


What’s your favorite food?

High quality food (which does not necessarily mean expensive). Usually I prefer to have local food, genuine in the place you are. I'll eat Sushi in Japan, Pallea in Valencia, Marillenknödel in Austria (definitely not the other way round). Food has a lot to do with environement: in the Trieste area are places called Osmiza, where you get ham and local wine, which just taste fantastic sitting there in the garden next to the grapes; if I would bring the same ham and wine to my home place in Germany, all the magic is gone.


Have you lived in a different European country than you do now? If so, would you like to tell us something about it, e.g. a fond memory or something you found surprising?


Yes. Living in different countries in my opinion is a great experience - part of our job (should have mentioned it above, to the question what I like about being a scientisit). I lived in 6 different European countries, from the Mediterranean to Skandinavia. Each one has its own culture and habits which I try to learn and absorb when living there. Some I like, some I don't like in each case. But it's always a very enriching experience which I do not want to miss. Changing perspective on certain aspects of life in different cultures helps understand what is real and what is just convention.


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?

Going for a walk with my dog. Biking home from work. Enjoy our garden.


Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?


Jazz music. Playing saxophone and piano.


If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?

Jazz musician (maybe - but that's a tough job though...)


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?

Find out what dark matter is. Get a more complete picture of cosmology. (LCDM is beautiful, but it has a number of loose ends which would be great to understand better.) Understand neutrinos better and how they are integrated in the Standard Model.






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