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Previous issues of the newsletter are published below.

  • Nikolina Šarčević

Name: Charles Dalang


Current position: PhD


Affiliation: University of Geneva


Field of research: Gravitational waves and cosmology


What is your career trajectory to date? I did my undergraduate studies at EPFL in Physics before joining ETH Zürich for my MSc., where I joined the QFT and strings group. I then accomplished my civil service as a high school math and physics teacher in Madagascar. Since 2018, I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Theoretical Physics at the University of Geneva.


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area? What is the nature of dark energy? and how can we test it?


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist? I like the idea of learning everyday and to feel that I am pursuing something mysterious that no one understands deep in the night. Of course, I dislike the frustration of not understanding things.


Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful? I am quite proud of my sense of humour?


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about? I got quite excited when I understood that standard sirens measure the evolution of the local effective Planck mass at the source and at the observer of a gravitational wave event and that I was able to convince my colleagues about that. In fact, I am quite excited about some more recent results on the transport of the polarization tensor of gravitational waves, for which we have yet to convince our peers.


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year? I would like to learn how to defend my PhD thesis!


What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to? I am quite excited about the growing number of gravitational wave events. There is so much to learn on black hole populations, the expansion history of the universe and on the nature of gravity!


What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now? Nothing can slow us down. In fact, I would argue that gravitational wave cosmology is rather accelerating.


What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe? EuCAPT was one of the first conference I actively participated to. It's a great opportunity to mingle researchers from related but yet, different fields. Seriously, I had the chance to listen to researchers interested in high energy cosmic rays, model building of dark matter and even neutrinos!


What’s your favorite food? I love Mexican food.


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? In fact, I have lived in Stockholm, Sweden for a year. The most surprising thing about Sweden, is the extreme absence of Sun in the winter and the extreme presence of it in the Summer. You'll tell me: No wonder, it's up North. But still!


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work? With a quick swim in the Rhône and a cold beer, in that order.


Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share? I enjoy doing Improv' theater. It's all about creating a story on stage with other comedians without any preparation. It is more fun but less crazy than it sounds.


If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing? That's a tough one. Each time, I ask myself that question, I come to the conclusion that I am happy being a scientist.


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years? Oooh that's a good one. I guess, I would really like to see efficient energy production with fusion techniques to solve some important problems humanity faces. It would also be nice to find compelling evidence for/against inflation to better understand the origin of everything. More practically, it would be nice if we could produce a dense roof top made of well-understood-by-then dark matter so that we could float around in zero gravity between Earth and that roof-top while enjoying the photons coming from the Sun?

  • Nikolina Šarčević

Name: Daniela Doneva


Current position: Postdoc (Emmy Noether group leader)


Affiliation: University of Tübingen


Field of research: Theoretical astrophysics, Gravitational physics

What is your career trajectory to date? I obtained my Ph.D. at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria under the supervision of Stoytcho Yazadjiev. I moved afterwards to a postdoc position at Tuebingen, where I was awarder with a Humboldt fellowship, followed by a Margarete von Wrangell habilitation fellowship combined with an Eliteprogramm grant of the Baden-Württemberg Foundation. I am currently an Emmy Noether fellow at the University of Tuebingen and member of the Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg of the Max Planck Society.


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area? Perhaps the most exciting open questions in my research area are the following. The behaviour of matter at the extreme densities observed in the neutron star cores is not yet well understood. In addition, a very important fundamental question is whether Einstein's theory of gravity is valid in the regime of strong gravitational field.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist? The best thing about doing science is that you managed to turn your child's dream into a job, always develop yourself, work on the limit of your mental abilities, and push your borders every day. Everything comes with a price, though, and I at least I find it very difficult to separate work from the rest of my life and to have a real time off. In addition, even though mobility is a good thing in terms of scientific career, it is also a huge challenge when having a family.


Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful? My most valuable skill is to be persistent for a long period of time despite the (sometime huge) difficulties. I am also able to divide a new problem into building blocks with increasing complexity, that are solved individually much easier.


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about? I can not define a certain point when I was most excited. In general I always get excited when I attack a very difficult and completely new problem on the border of my capabilities and more importantly - when I solve it.


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year? On the science front, I would like to advance further in the nonlinear simulations of compact objects dynamics since this is among the ultimate tools to confront fundamental physics predictions to observations. As a junior group leader I will be happy to continue developing my supervision and group management skills.

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to? I am very excited to see how the future gravitational wave observations will be able to constrain fundamental physics. The accuracy of these observations is rapidly increasing and it is a matter of years until we either make a breakthrough in fundamental physics or establish the existing standard models with a very good accuracy.


What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now? The biggest "obstacle" is on one side the complexity of the problems that is much higher compared to general relativity, and on the other - even though the gravitational wave and electromagnetic observations are advancing rapidly, they are still not at the level of testing many of the aspect of alternative theories of gravity.


What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe? Networking is extremely important in our field of research. EuCAPT offers one of the relatively few opportunities in this direction on a European level.


What’s your favorite food? All kinds of fruits and bread


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work? Two kids "screaming" around me and seeking my attention - even though it is exhausting, they manage to force me to completely forget work for a while.


Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share? I love travelling.


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


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years? I hope to see more aspects of fundamental physics being developed and tested observationally.

  • Nikolina Šarčević

Name: Alba Kalaja


Current position: PhD


Affiliation: VSI, University of Groningen


Field of research: Theoretical and observational Cosmology



What is your career trajectory to date? I completed my bachelor and master degrees at the University of Padova (2013-2018). I spent some months at the ICCUB of the University of Barcelona as an Erasmus student and later as a visiting student. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen. I work with Daan Meerburg on CMB physics, primordial non-Gaussianity and lensing reconstruction.


What are the most exciting open questions in your research area? One of the most intriguing questions for me is: what happened in the first moments of our universe? Finding ways to explore the smallest scales is very exciting.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist? There are so many things that I love about my job: the problem-solving process, so frustrating at times but highly rewarding when you see the results; challenging myself with new problems; working with amazingly smart and creative people, who inspire me and keep my motivation high. Obviously, travelling is another perk and I would like to start doing it again once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. I dislike the lack of job security, the idea that I’ll have to choose between having a career and being close to loved ones. Also, I don’t like the toxic environment that still persists in some institutes and universities.


Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful? I like to think that I’m well organized and tidy in code-writing. I’m also a very empathic person... this is a skill, right?!


In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about? I remember the excitement for the first detection of gravitational waves and the latest Planck results. The picture of the black holes was also super cool. On another note, I was happy to see how scientific effort could produce viable COVID-19 vaccines in such a short amount of time!


What new skills would you like to learn in the next year? I would like to improve my coding skills, maybe throw myself into machine learning.


What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to? There are so many upcoming experiments to be excited about! I’m looking forward to CMB missions like SO and CMB-S4, but also Euclid, SPHEREx and LISA. I believe they will give us a huge kick into solving fundamental questions in Cosmology.

What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe? Mainly connecting people, especially young researchers who do not have the chance (or resources) to make meaningful connections.


What’s your favorite food? This is a tough one so I’ll go for food that gives me good feelings: my grandma’s petulla (Albanian fried dough), pizza and fries.


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 Albania, grew up in Italy and lived in Spain. Every country has given me meaningful memories! Definitely, the international vibe and the incredibly good food in Barcelona made me feel welcome.


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work? Usually watching a series, reading a book, cooking, taking care of my plants, sometimes drawing and writing. When the weather allows it, I like to go out on picnics to explore the Dutch countryside.


Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share? I love reading and jigsaw puzzles. I always enjoy a good fantasy or sci-fi book, but I read any genre. Lately, I’ve become more interested in gender issues and sexism in languages (especially Italian!).


If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing? I’ve always had an interest in linguistics, philology and ancient history, so I would probably be doing something in those fields… research, again?!


What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years? In cosmology, I hope we will know more about the early universe and the nature of dark matter/energy. Generally, I would like to see more concrete solutions to climate change, and more sustainable and ethical alternatives to meat and fish.