Name: Anne Green
Current position: Faculty
Affiliation: University of Nottingham
Field of research: Theoretical astroparticle physics and early universe cosmology, in particular dark matter.
What is your career trajectory to date?
I did my PhD in early Universe cosmology in the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex UK (95-98). After that I held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Astronomy Unit at Queen Mary, University of London (98-01), followed by a postdoc in the Field and Particles group at the University of Stockholm (01-03). I then returned to the UK with a 5 year Advanced Fellowship. After brief periods at the Universities of Sussex (03-04) and Sheffield (04-05), I moved to the University of Nottingham where I’ve now been for more than 15 years.
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
What is dark matter? What’s responsible for the late-time accelerated expansion of the Universe? And did inflation happen?
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
I really enjoy learning about, and understanding, new things, and then explaining them to other people. I dislike pointless bureaucracy, and how little time I get to spend actually doing research these days.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
I’m not particularly good at analytic calculations, coding or having good ideas! My strength is probably bringing together results/ideas from different fields (astrophysics, particle theory and experiment). I also seem to be effective at explaining astrophysics to particle physicists and vice versa.
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
Probably during my PhD in the mid-late 1990s, when the acoustic oscillations in the angular power spectrum of the CMB were measured, and the evidence for the late-time accelerated expansion of the Universe solidified. Partly because these were both big break-throughs, and partly because I was new to research.
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
I really wish I had the time to learn new skills rather than just desperately trying to ‘keep all the plates spinning’! I’m moderately proud of having learnt to use matplotlib in the early stages of the pandemic though.
What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
The huge advances in understanding the structure and history of the Milky Way in recent years using data from Gaia.
What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
The pressure to constantly produce papers, rather than tackle difficult, but important, problems. Also various processes have become excessively complicated and time-consuming. For instance, the application processes for the fellowships that typically lead to permanent positions are a lot more complex now than they were a decade ago. These changes are often well-intentioned (e.g. to try and make the selection process more objective) but I’m not convinced that they’ve had a net positive effect.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
Research has become increasingly specialised, however progress often comes from combining ideas from different fields. Getting people from different fields talking to each other and sharing knowledge is a really good thing.
On a more ‘political’ level, astroparticle physics often falls in a funding gap between astronomy and particle physics. Co-ordination, and visibility, at a European level is therefore crucial for the future development of the field.
What’s your favorite food?
Toast, mushrooms and fruit, but not all at the same time! Having grown up on a farm I’m vegetarian, and definitely not a foodie.
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 spent 2 years as a postdoc in Sweden, and absolutely loved it. I feel far more at home in the Nordic countries than I do in the UK, and only returned to the UK because of a ‘two body problem’.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
Running, yoga, and the occasional IPA.
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
Many-I’m not very good at ‘doing nothing’! My main hobby is ultra-running, in particular multi-day non-stop races and self-supported fast packing trips. I also read lots, play the piano, practice yoga (mainly ashtanga) and enjoy travelling to ‘interesting’ places with my partner. And I’ve recently bought a gravel bike, so I can have a go at bike packing.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
I’d like to be a Eurosport commentator/pundit! It would combine my love of learning about and explaining things, with my love of watching obscure sports, and maybe also involve travel to unusual places.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
I’d really like to see convincing evidence of any (and ideally all) of the following:
i) the nature of dark matter,
ii) dark energy properties which differ from a vanilla cosmological constant,
iii) gravitational waves from inflation.