Name: Deanna C. Hooper Current position: Postdoc
Affiliation: Université Libre de Bruxelles
Field of research: Early Universe Cosmology
What is your career trajectory to date?
I did a Bachelor's degree in Physics (with a mention in Fundamental Physics) at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain), graduating in 2014. After that I did a Master's Degree in Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology at the RWTH Aachen University (Germany), graduating in 2016, and I wrapped up my studies with a PhD in Cosmology also at the RWTH Aachen University (Germany), defending in 2019. After completing my PhD in 2019 I started my first postdoc position at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium).
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
The biggest and most fun question for me is the nature of Dark Matter; we have so many ideas for Dark Matter, and we are gradually developing ways of testing these ideas. I also think the Hubble tension is one of the biggest mysteries currently. And of course the question of what we are going to learn with gravitational waves.
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
I like the feeling of discovery and of constantly learning new things. On the other hand, sometimes you can be stuck on a problem or calculation for ages, and that's rather frustrating, but when you manage to solve it, it's very rewarding.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
I'm proud of my outreach skills: helping people without a background in science understand complicated scientific ideas is extremely fun. I think the most useful skill nowadays is some level of coding and numerics.
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
There's been a lot of moments that have gotten me excited, but my favourite was on the 11th February 2016, when the first gravitational wave detection was announced. It really felt like we were entering a whole new era for cosmology.
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
I would like to improve my coding skills, and learn how to apply these skills to study early universe processes such as primordial gravitational waves.
What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to the next generation of experiments: both CMB missions like CMB-S4 and gravitational wave mission like LISA have the potential to really help us address some of the biggest questions in the field.
What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
In short-term scales, probably the on-going pandemic. So many conferences and networking opportunities have been canceled, which has reduced the overall amount of new collaborations. Additionally, almost everyone is dealing with some level of anxiety, stress, or fatigue because of the last year, and many scientists have additional family responsibilities or concerns that make usual work very difficult.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
Such a network can help people come together and find possible collaborations. Especially for early career researches who might not have established connections, it is important to have an easy way to find other people who work on similar topics.
What’s your favorite food?
I have a sweet tooth, so pretty much anything covered in chocolate. Chocolate caramel brownies are always a good choice.
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 a couple of countries, and they all have their special charm. I have very fond memories of the quirky individual town celebrations in Catalunya, with all the community coming together and dancing and singing.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
Usually with a good sci-fi show or film. Or baking something sweet.
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
I love all kinds of puzzles, and I do enjoy doing origami a lot.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
I'd probably be working for a non-profit helping animals.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
I hope we can create a more diverse and inclusive scientific community, which fosters collaboration and values people's wellbeing. I would also like to see a revolution in the scientific job market, potentially offering early career scientists better job security.
What question would you have liked us to ask you, and what would you have responded?
I would have liked to be asked "If you feel comfortable disclosing them, what are your pronouns?", and my answer would have been she/her.