Name: Matheus Rodrigues Medeiros Silva
Current position: PhD
Affiliation: University of Pisa
Field of research: Theoretical Cosmology
What is your career trajectory to date?
I did my undergraduate degree at UNESP (Brazil), from 2013 to 2017, where I developed research in experimental condensed matter physics with FAPESP scholarship. During the end of my degree I decided to pursue a career in theoretical physics, then, I did my master degree at UEL (Brazil), from 2017 to 2019, working in late universe cosmology. Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Pisa working in theoretical cosmology, where I am also supported by INFN under the program TAsP (Theoretical Astroparticle Physics).
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
Is inflation the mechanism setting the initial conditions to the hot big bang epoch? Which inflationary model, or which underlying fundamental physics is behind such mechanism?
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
It is astonishing how our minds can be creative, our ability to boils down nature into equations, to propose particles and fundamental laws which can be verified or ruled out. During my degree I watched the documentary “Particle Fever” and I saw Peter Higgs seeing the press conference of CERN confirming the existence of the mechanism that he helped to develop and of the particle that takes his name. I could only imagine how amazing was the sensation he felt. From then on I realized that I wanted to be a theoretical physicist. Even in way smaller scales, when we propose a new formalism or an equation, even if it is not a gaming changer in our field, still we are the first ones to see that result, which came from our minds, translated into equations in a piece of paper. These kind of feeling is amazing!!! I dislike that all the time when we are finishing a step (Master, PhD, Post Doc) that we should feel joy, is the same time that we are becoming unemployed.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
I grew up seeing my parents working hard to give me better opportunities. Having them as my role model, inspires me to keep trying even when I don’t know how to proceed with my work!
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
It was amazing when I received the news that I have won a PhD position in Pisa!!
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
For what regards the early universe cosmology, I would like to learn new theoretical skills to study fundamental theories in the inflationary context. For what regards the late universe, I would like to learn coding skills to link my work with observations.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
It plays an important role in defining the next steps in the field. As an example, the white paper is helpful for young scientists entering the field, as it joins some of the most important names in each sub-field organizing what are the future challenges and the important questions to be answered.
What’s your favorite food?
Ohh... this is a difficulty one..., there are so many foods that I love!!! As a Brazilian, one of my favorite foods is the barbecue!! The barbecue during the weekend, festivities or a soccer game is quite important in our culture. In particular my uncle prepares THE BEST ROAST RIBS IN THE AREA, or as he would say "A melhor costela da região!!"
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?
Italy is the first country that I lived other than Brazil, before coming here I have never been in a different country. It is lovely to live in such a historical place with amazing food! It is also interesting to see how the seasons are so well defined in Europe, differently from the Southern Hemisphere.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
I like to be with my wife, have a good dinner and watch TV series together!! Also, summer in Pisa is awesome, after work we still have daylight, so I like to go to the skate park to ride my BMX, or go to sit in the grass in “Piazza dei Miracoli” enjoying the sunset and seeing the Leaning Tower.
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
I like all kinds of sports, mainly, I like to ride BMX. I also like to repair the car with my dad, and learn about engine mechanics with him.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
I have already considered to be an engineer, or work in data management. However, nowadays, I do not see myself doing something other than being a scientist, in particular a theoretical physicist! I really love my job! Of course, there are difficult days when I don’t know how to proceed with my work (quite frequently). However, there are awesome days when I feel myself on fire, hyper focused for days or weeks, doing computations from the time that I wake up to the time that I go to sleep. I love so much when this happens!!