Community Profile: Paul Frederik Depta

Name: Paul Frederik Depta

Current position: Postdoc

Affiliation: Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik

Field of research: Dark matter, connections between particle physics and cosmology


What is your career trajectory to date?

I studied physics at the University of Frankfurt, Germany, where I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 2015 and 2017. Between 2018 and 2021 I was a PhD student in the DESY Theory Group in Hamburg, Germany. Since 2021 I am a postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.

What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?

What is the nature of dark matter? Where and how should we look for it? What could be new observational signatures of dark matter?

What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I like the opportunity to work on interesting problems and that by doing so, we are actually generating new knowledge in an effort to describe the physical world. At the same time, I dislike some of the frustrations along the way, be it in setbacks (though they are certainly part of the process) or uncertainties as a young scientist.

Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?

I am proud that I have the resilience to work on difficult problems and eventually solve them. This is also a very useful skill.

In your career so far, at what point were you the most excited, and what were you excited about?

It’s difficult to choose from a couple of moments, but putting my first paper on the arXiv was certainly a very exciting moment for me.

What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?

I would like to learn more about cosmological perturbation theory and applications for different dark matter models.

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?

I am looking forward to finding out more about/discovering the nature of dark matter. But I am also excited for other new results and believe that we will have interesting advances at the interface of particle physics and cosmology (e.g. in gravitational waves, 21cm observations, etc.).

What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?

I think the combination of both, a wealth of data supporting the Standard Model of particle physics as well as the lack of data hinting at new physics beyond the Standard Model, is a difficult situation for a theoretical physicist working on dark matter to make progress right now.

What role do you think a community network like EuCAPT can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe?

A community network like EuCAPT helps to provide opportunities for scientific discussion and exchange, in my opinion probably the most important basis for developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology in Europe even further.

What’s your favorite food?


How do you like to relax after a hard day of work?

I relax by playing the trumpet.

Do you have any non-physics interests that you would like to share?

I really enjoy playing the trumpet, which I do in different orchestras and ensembles. I also like cooking.

If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?

I think I would play the trumpet in a professional orchestra.

What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?

If I have to pick just one goal, I would say to unveil the nature of dark matter. But I do hope that we solve some other problems too, like the origin of the baryon asymmetry in the universe, the origin of neutrino masses, the nature of dark energy, and others.