Name: Natalie Hogg
Current position: Post doc
Affiliation: IPhT CEA-Sacla
Field of research: Cosmology
What is your career trajectory to date?
I did my undergraduate and Master's at Aberystwyth University in Wales, then I went to ICG Portsmouth for my PhD, which I finished in 2021. By that time I'd had enough of living by the sea so I started my current postdoc position which has been split between IFT UAM-CSIC in Madrid and IPhT CEA-Saclay in Paris.
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
Whether dark energy is really the cosmological constant or not, and related to this, does general relativity work on the really small and really large scales? If not, can we come up with a better theory of gravity?
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
I like the freedom to work on whatever interests you, the ability to travel to different places to meet new people and talk about science and in general the collaborative nature of the job. I don't like having to move countries every couple of years to chase the next position and I don't like the persistent racism and sexism in science -- but these are more problems with academia than being a scientist.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
I enjoy giving talks and writing papers and these are both very useful skills because communicating your results effectively is a key part of doing science.
In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
I remember that the first detection of gravitational waves was made about six months before I started my PhD, which made me glad I'd chosen to focus on cosmology. Watching the recent launch of JWST was also very exciting!
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
I am supervising a student for the first time this summer, so I am definitely going to learn something about supervision and project planning through that.
What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
The pressure to publish as much as possible without regard to the quality. The lottery-like nature of the peer review system. Forcing people to change jobs so often that it's impossible to build any sense of stability and progression either at work or in their personal lives, which impacts productivity in a huge way.
What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?
Science doesn't happen in a vacuum, so any initiative which helps researchers connect with each other and start conversations about their work can only be a good thing for the development of the field.
What’s your favorite food?
Mum's homemade macaroni cheese.
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?
One of my strongest memories from living in Spain was experiencing temperatures above 35 degrees for the first time -- tough for a northern European! I also loved the Moorish architecture, for example in Toledo, Seville and Granada.
How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?
One word: pub!
Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?
I like classical music (both playing and listening), reading crime fiction and classic literature, and enjoying the great outdoors.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
Writing the next best-selling murder mystery novel.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
Finding cures or better treatments for diseases like cancer and dementia.