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Previous issues of the newsletter are published below.


Name: Angelo Ricciardone


Current position: Postdoc


Affiliation: University of Padova


Field of research: Cosmology with Gravitational Waves




 

What is your career trajectory to date?

I am a research fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy ”G. Galilei” at the University of Padova and I work on the interplay between Gravitational Wave physics and Cosmology. Before I was an INFN postdoctoral fellowship at INFN sections of Padova and Parma. Before that I was a postdoc at the University of Stavanger (Norway), where I started working on Gravitational Waves and Interferometers. I got mmi PhD at the University of Padova working on inflation, CMB and theory of cosmological perturbations with gauge fields.


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

After the direct detection of gravitational waves from astrophysical compact object, one of the most exciting open question and discovery would be the detection of primordial gravitational waves and the source that generate them.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I like the freedom to develop new ideas and test if they can work or not. I like the idea that one day, what we are predicting nowadays can be measured and can help understating our universe, and why not, have an impact also on the every day life.


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


Probably the most useful skill is the patience to seat and try and re-try to do calculations as long as my planned target is not reached out.


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


For sure, when I entered the PhD program was one of the most exciting day of my life. From the discovery point of view, when the first detection of GW by LIGO/virgo was announced.


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


I am planning to get more involved in data analysis related to GW physics and interferometers.


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

The predictions that together with my collaborators we are extracting from Stochastic Gravitational Wave Backgrounds.


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

I think that EuCAPT is making a great job in creating a community of scientists with different expertise that can interact and intersect to think about possible future research directions.


What’s your favorite food?

Lasagna.


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


I like to walk mostly when everything around is quite, like late in the night.

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


I think that the detection of dark matter, dark energy and primordial gravitational waves would give to us almost a complete understanding of our universe.









Name: Miguel Zumalacarregui


Current position: Faculty


Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institut)


Field of research: Gravitation and Cosmology




 

What is your career trajectory to date?

I did my PhD in the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Madrid. Then I was a postdoc at the University of Heidelberg, a Nordita Fellow at the Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics and a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellow in the University of California at Berkeley. My Fellowship's return phase was at the IPhT in Saclay, which was cut short as I joined the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics for 5 years to start a new group.


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

There are so many! How did the Universe begin? What is dark matter? Why is the universe accelerating, and why so slowly? How do black holes form? All this questions (and about a third of open problems in physics, see this link) are related to gravity, directly or indirectly. And we expect to make substantial progress thanks to upcoming experiments and astronomical observations.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I love the freedom of being a scientist: to pursue interesting projects, to choose how (and when) I work. I enjoy chasing down a problem for months or years, giving up for a while and returning some months later with a fresh perspective. I’m also very grateful that my performance can be very uneven: an inspired afternoon can make up for weeks of going in the wrong direction (which would not be acceptable in many professions).

The worst is the uncertainty: a lot of effort goes into finding the next job and there is little control of where that will be. The dozens of rejections for every success. I wish this could be more like a regular job that you keep if you do it well.


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

I’ve gotten comfortable enough at coding, working with data and analytical calculations. I love working with people who have focus on one aspect, but also jumping between these modes. I also find very useful to embark on new topics or approaches every now and then. And take my time to develop projects thoroughly, even this means publishing fewer papers.


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


When Gravitational Waves were first detected. I had been thinking about them for some time before 2015, but when the first detection was announced I was shocked. I decided to make gravitational waves my primary focus and explore how they can help us advance open problems in cosmology.


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


I’d love to embrace “snack writing”. As junior faculty and a father of a toddler and a baby (with a working spouse) I find time very scarce. I’d like to use those 15-30’ pockets of time in my workday to advance my papers and proposals.


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

I can’t wait for the next generation of galaxy surveys to deliver data. First, to see if the cosmic tensions are strengthened or refuted, and second to see if other surprises emerge. I’m also very excited for LISA, although that will require more patience!


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

Cosmology is advancing at a remarkable pace, set by the timescale of the observations and data analysis. However, I would like to see more ideas from the theorists, and more interest in testing non-standard scenarios from the observers.


More broadly I think there are serious structural issues in academia. One is the lack of professional stability, which makes many excellent people leave the field at their prime. Instability also incentivises giving priority to simple, straightforward projects and postponing important decisions, like having children.


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

It is essential to increase the interaction between different approaches (observers & theorists), and also between fields. It is often the case that an area undergoes rapid progress thanks to another field, like when multi-messenger gravitational wave observations ruled out large classes of dark energy models. More fluid communication will facilitate tapping these opportunities.


It is also important to offer support for early career scientists. Having an involved supervisor is a huge advantage, but there are many bright and hard working people that struggle because they lack good a mentor.


What’s your favorite food?

I love most forms of food, and I love cooking. I have a sweet spot for seafood and its applications, like paella.


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’ve lived in Spain, Germany (twice), Sweden and California (United States). I have loved all these places, experiencing the little differences and appreciating different aspects of each place.


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

My kids take most of my after- (and pre-) work time, but playing with them is very fun and takes my mind off work. If the evening is particularly smooth I might even drink a glass of wine or watch a portion of a movie.


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


I love to read and cook for friends and family. I’m also interested in mindfulness and meditation from a practical perspective.


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

Other technical work that involves problem solving, for instance in the technology or policy sector.


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

I’d love to learn what dark matter is. Also an explanation for dark energy that is experimentally verified and has profound implications for fundamental physics.







Name: Raffaele Tito D'Agnolo


Current position: Faculty


Affiliation: Paris-Saclay University and CEA IPhT Saclay


Field of research: Theoretical Particle Physics




 

What is your career trajectory to date?

- PhD Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (2013)

- 2013-2016 Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA

- 2017 Post-doc, EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland

- 2018-2019 Research Associate, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, USA

- 2019-present, Tenured Staff Scientist, CEA IPhT Saclay, France

- 2020-present, Adjunct Professor, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.


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

The Higgs boson mass and the cosmological constant are many orders of magnitude (17 and 120 respectively) smaller than we expect them to be theoretically. This has a tremendous impact on reality. It allows the universe to be macroscopic and non-empty. It also allows complex nuclei to exist and as a consequence complex chemistry and life to be possible.


What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I like the freedom, the opportunity to measure ourselves against questions that are more absolute and fundamental than human experience, the privilege of never being bored and the many occasions that we have to travel. There is not much that I dislike, at the moment mostly having to apply for grants :).


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


Probably when the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, with a close second being the first detection of gravitational waves.


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

Probing primordial gravitational wave spectra.


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

Uncertainty. We have no idea where the next big discovery in particle physics will be coming from and we are fragmented in a multitude of factions supporting different experiments and visions of physics.


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

Bringing the particle physics and cosmology communities closer together. There is already a good amount of cross-contamination, but we can always do better.


What’s your favorite food?

Too many to list. My favorite dessert is Mont Blanc.