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Community Profile: Charles Dalang

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?


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