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.