Interview with Daniela Saadeh: winner of the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize

Daniela Saadeh

Daniela Saadeh – UCL Astrophysics Group

CQG is proud to sponsor the IOP Gravitational Physics Group (GPG) thesis prize. This year the prize was awarded to Daniela Saadeh, who we have interviewed below. Congratulations Daniela!

Can you tell us a little bit about the work in your thesis?

A fundamental assumption of the standard model of cosmology is that the large-scale Universe is isotropic – i.e. that its properties are independent of direction. Historically, this concept stemmed from the Copernican Principle, the philosophical statement that we do not occupy a ‘special’ place in the Universe. In physical terms, this idea is converted into the assumption that all positions and directions in the Universe are equivalent, so that no observer is ‘privileged’.

However, assumptions must be tested, especially foundational ones. General relativity – our standard theory of gravity – allows for many ways in which spacetime could be anisotropic: directional symmetry is not fundamentally required. If the Universe were indeed to be anisotropic, we would actually need to carefully revise our understanding (for instance, calculations about its history or content). Making this health check is very important! Continue reading

Interview with Patricia Schmidt, winner of the 2015 GPG thesis prize

Patricia Schmidt

Patricia Schmidt is a Postdoctoral Scholar in TAPIR at Caltech

What was the most interesting thing that happened during your PhD?

The most interesting thing was that literally every day, you would do something new. Even looking at the same set of equations again and again you would get new ideas and new insights.

Were there any big surprises?

The biggest surprise was that it actually worked out! We didn’t have a path set out to reach this result when we started, so who would have thought when Mark and I set out that we would actually have exactly Continue reading

Interview with Dr Anna Heffernan: winner of the 2014 IOP Gravitational Physics Group’s thesis prize, co-sponsored by CQG

Anna Heffernan

Dr Anna Heffernan, Advanced Concepts Team, European Space Agency

What led you into science and your chosen area of research?

I’ve always enjoyed Mathematics and learning about the world around me. General relativity allows us to use mathematics to probe the very space time in which we exist – I find this fascinating, and it means I also get to play with equations for a living.

What do you find most interesting about this subject?

The fundamental questions it both addresses and raises. I also like the idea that with the emergence of gravitational wave astronomy, general relativity will soon be used as a tool to explore our universe.

Can you tell us a little bit about the work in your thesis?

Sure, my thesis was on the self-force problem – this is when Continue reading