Name: Celia Escamilla-Rivera
Current position: Faculty
Affiliation: Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares ICN UNAM
Field of research: Theoretical and Observational Cosmology
What is your career trajectory to date?
Currently, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) and Professor and Head of the Gravitation and Field Department in ICN UNAM Mexico. In 2019 I had a research appointment at Abdus Salam ICTP. In 2016 I was a postdoc visitor at Observatorio Nacional Rio de Janeiro as CNPq Fellow. From 2010 to 2014 I was PhD in Basque Country University and PhD student visitor at University of Oxford, UK. In 2009 Honorary student at University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. In 2007 SNI III assistant project at University of Cambridge (DAMTP) UK. Up to this date, I am Member of the Sociedad Mexicana de Física, Member of National System of Researchers and State System of Researchers (Honorific) and Research Fellow of the Advanced Institute of Cosmology (IAC) A.C.
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
- What is the nature of dark energy? Can dark energy be dynamical?
- Does gravity behave like General Relativity even at horizon size scales? Is there Modified Gravity?
- What is the origin of the sharpened tension in the observed and inferred values as, for example, the Hubble constant?
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
On the whole, I cannot imagine being anything but a scientist, and of course all jobs have ups and downs to them. I feel fortunate to have this career and I know that for many scientists one of the downsides is the lack of faculty jobs and financial support. There is some hope that with increased fundings from the government budget, if that continues, that unfortunate situation might improve.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
While I am theoretician by heart, I found very useful to test my theoretical proposals with current observational surveys. And also, I have a clarity/pedagogic skills when giving talks.
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
The day I heard David Gross saying "we would not call it a tension or problem, but rather a crisis", in a conference at California. This event discussed in deep the issues related to the different expansion rates of the Universe. This fact can change the age of the Universe, which was my first question when I was a child: how the scientist know how old is the Universe? Now this question is my job and passion. I had made very good colleagues and friends due this question. And it opens a new era: the serious search of new physics...
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
A well-comprehensive understanding of the machine learning techniques in Cosmology. And on the personal front, to obtain -- finally!-- my license to pilot helicopters.
What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
To get to the bottom on the Hubble constant tension issue.
What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
I can say for sure that 10 years ago I did not anticipate spending so much time writing national grants, which comes at the expense of some of time that could go to the other important and more enjoyable parts of being a cosmologist. Coming with the whole grant game can be a relatively frequent stream of rejection, which is no fun, but can give one a thick skin.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
EuCAPT network will be essential to remove barriers between researchers and institutions, in such a way that everyone would be able to reach out colleagues in multidisciplinary fields. And we should not forget the importance of also cooperating with researchers outside Europe.
What’s your favorite food?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if the pizza is good, the rest of the food does not matter.
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?
While I now live in Mexico, I lived 5 years in the north of Spain. But my fond memories belongs to UK. From the cosmopolitan London, the student ambience in Oxford and the marvellous food and nature that Scotland offers, I leaved my heart there.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
With a fencing epee match following by a good glass of Barolo.
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
I love fencing. Fencing is a sport that combines the physical and mental strengths of each person, also has a long tradition of civility and respect towards one’s opponent, aspects that also applies also outside of the sport.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
Looking a way to be it! Science is written in my DNA. But I would not say no to an olympic fencer profession.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
The discovery of the nature of dark energy and the Hubble tension.