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Community Profile: Ruth Durrer

Name: Ruth Durrer

Current position: Faculty

Affiliation: Department of Theoretical Physics at Geneva University

Field of research: Cosmology


What is your career trajectory to date?

I studied at Zürich University where I also did my PhD in 1988. Then I went as postdoc to Cambridge IoA and later to Princeton University, physics department. In 1993 I became assistant professor at Zürich University and in 1995 I became full professor in Geneva where I am since then.

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

Let me mention two:

The first was to study the CMB acoustic peaks, if fluctuations are due to topological defects. In 1995 (published in PRL, see e-Print: astro-ph/9507035 ) we found, combining numerical simulations and analytical arguments, that there are (nearly) no acoustic peaks in the CMB temperature power spectrum if fluctuations are generated by topological defects. This has later ruled out the generation of fluctuations by topological defects. Their contribution is at best at the few percent level.

The second was the fully relativistic description of what observers measure when they observe the distribution of galaxies. Taking into account on the one hand, that observations are made not on a spatial hypersurface but on our past lightcone and on the other hand, that we do not measure distances but just angles and redshifts and therefore we directly can infer an angular-redshift power spectrum, while P(k,z) always contains model assumptions which convert angles and distances into length scales (published in PRD, see e-Print: 1105.5280).

What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?

I love to do research and like to discuss with young scientist, especially PhD students. I like it that science, especially theoretical physics, is an international endeavour of different cultures, and regions. I also like teaching.

I hate bureaucracy and I especially dislike that it seems to grow every year....

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

I am very excited about the discovery of gravitational waves and about its prospects for cosmology. I am looking forward to the data from Euclid and from the Vera Rubin Observatory.

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

Growing bureaucratic responsibilities.

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

It can bring closer together the European cosmology community. Both, theorists and observers.

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

I like hiking and skiing.

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

Find a better, more sinsible cosmological model, beyond ΛCDM.


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