Name: Deyan Mihaylov
Current position: Postdoc
Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics
Field of research: Gravitational wave astronomy
What is your career trajectory to date?
Right now I am finishing my first post-doctoral position, before that I was a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, and before that I completed my higher education also in the United Kingdom. Soon I will be moving to the United States for my next academic position.
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
Since the first direct detection of Gravitational Waves in 2016, the community has answered many questions which had been standing unanswered for decades. I suppose that the most exciting question which still has to be answered is whether Einstein's Theory of General Relativity will be proved valid when tested at all scales.
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
The most enjoyable part of my work is the chance to produce something -- equation, data, graph, etc -- that has never been seen before by anyone.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
I suppose I am proud of being able to quickly analyse text and data. On the other hand, reading and understanding graphical representation of data has proven handy on many occasions.
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
I am part of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaboration, which unites thousands of scientists from numerous countries. The times I have been most excited in my career so far was seeing the entire collaboration contributing together to help advance science.
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
I suppose that exploring how machine learning (a.k.a. artificial intelligence) can be utilised to help with my research would be a worthy endeavour for the next year, and a timely one too.
What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
Gravitational Waves have been the source of a flurry of new results in recent years, but we expect to learn even more over the coming 2 decades, both with LIGO-type detectors, and also with the promising LISA mission. Apart from that, I am personally very excited to see more results from the Event Horizon Telescope and from the groups who are searching for exoplanets, especially potentially habitable ones.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
I believe that science is best done in collaboration. Hence, organising conferences, workshops, and in general giving scientists the opportunity to congregate and talk to each other is perhaps the best driver of new ideas in any field of science -- theoretical astrophysics included. Some of my best ideas for projects were born out of interactions with scientists whom I had not interacted with before.
What’s your favorite food?
One that has been grown organically and prepared with patience.
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 was born in Bulgaria, where I lived until I was 18. The following 10 years I spent in the United Kingdom, where I obtained my higher education and earned my PhD. I now live in Germany, and have previously also spent long periods of time in Ireland and France.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
Listening to music, if possible live, or entertaining my friends with food and drinks.
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
Reading and playing a couple of musical instruments. I am an avid hiker and try to spend as much time as possible among nature, and have a penchant for repetitively putting one foot in front of the other over the course of long distances.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
Perhaps another profession where analytics and deduction would be useful. Before I joined the academy, I considered becoming a police detective or an investigative journalist. Even earlier in my life, my dream was to become a pilot.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
Given that in 50 years my scientific career would be already over, I would be very happy to see a unified theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Alternatively, I would settle for a detailed explanation of why such theory cannot exist.
What question would you have liked us to ask you, and what would you have responded?
What is your prediction for the next big scientific breakthrough? My answer: detection of a stochastic gravitational wave background, most likely of astrophysical origin.