Community Profile: Ricardo Zambujal Ferreira

Name: Ricardo Zambujal Ferreira

Current position: Postdoc

Affiliation: IFAE, Barcelona

Field of research: Early universe, gravity and axions


What is your career trajectory to date?

I studied at the U.Porto in Portugal, and did my PhD at the CP3-Origins Institute in Denmark. Then, the postdoc tour started, first at the Institut of Cosmic Sciences, at the U. Barcelona, then a postdoc fellow at Nordita-Stockholm, and finally at IFAE (U. Autónoma Barcelona), where I started as a postdoc and recently became a Beatriu de Pinós fellow.

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

Quite a few. From more theoretical ones, the cosmological constant problem (the elephant in the room) and somewhat related questions such as de-Sitter stability and the microphysics of inflation; to more phenomenological aspects, can we detect or exclude the QCD axion in the next 20 years?

What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

On the plus side, definitely the freedom of thought and unconstrained mind-roaming. The negative side is the systemic problem with research in Europe where it takes longer and longer to achieve professional stability and all the side effects that that has on you, your family and friends.

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

I consider myself a creative person with a good intuition. That has helped doing several short-cuts in my research.

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

I think it is very exciting when we believe we are proposing something new. That has happened with some of my research projects like the model I proposed for inflation or the new ways to probe the QCD axion with the CMB.

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

Recently, three pulsar timing arrays collaborations found evidence for a signal at nanoHertz frequencies. Is it a stochastic background of gravitational waves from supermassive black holes, some systematic effects or something not so expected...?

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

Easy one, the finitude of daytime.

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

I believe it is important for us, in particular theoreticians like me that usually work in small teams, to feel that we are part of a larger community.

What’s your favorite food?

Codfish à Brás! Portuguese are known for their love for salty codfish, I couldn't disappoint my compatriots.

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?

Portugal, Denmark, Spain and Sweden. After experience this European North-South dichotomy, I feel that I now understand the importance of sun and cozy homes but also of unplanned joy and gatherings.

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

Doing some sport, having a glass of wine and chill out with wife and friends.

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

I love maps and geography. I might also be a big football fan...

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

As a kid I wanted to be a football player. When the reality check came, I also found neuroscience an exciting option.

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

To detect the QCD axion in the range where it is the dark matter. It would be two birds in one shot.