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

2016 Bergmann-Wheeler Thesis Prize winner: Lisa Glaser

Lisa Glaser

Lisa Glaser is currently a Research Fellow at University of Nottingham, and will (from September 2016) join Renate Loll’s group at the Radboud Universitet in Nijmegen with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship to explore renormalisation in discrete theories of quantum gravity.
You can follow her on Twitter. 

1. Tell us about your thesis

During my Ph.D. I worked on causal dynamical triangulations and causal set theory. While these approaches are very different at first sight, upon closer examination they show important similarities. In both theories we try to solve the path integral over geometries by introducing a regularisation.

In causal dynamical triangulations the regularisation are simplices, which scale away in the continuum limit, while causal set theory proposes a fundamental smallest volume of space-time events. Another similarity is that both of these theories try to incorporate the Lorentzian structure of space-time into the theory. In causal dynamical triangulations this is implemented through a Continue reading

Nominate your student for the Bergmann-Wheeler Thesis Prize for quantum gravity

Gary Horowitz

Gary Horowitz is President of the ISGRG

In 2008, the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation instituted a Thesis Prize in memory of two great pioneers of quantum gravity: Professors Peter Bergmann (1915–2002) and John Wheeler (1911–2008). This prize is sponsored by Classical and Quantum Gravity and is awarded for the best PhD thesis in the broad area encompassing all approaches to quantum gravity. The winner of the next iteration of the prize will receive a cheque for $1800 and a certificate.

The primary criteria for selection will be the high quality of scientific results, creativity and originality, and the significance of results to the broad area of the prize. The winner for this prize will be chosen by a committee of leading international experts in the field approximately six months before presentation of the prize at Continue reading

IOP Gravity Thesis Prize 2015


Dr Timothy Clifton is the Secretary of the Gravitational Physics Group, at the Institute of Physics

Submissions are now invited for the £500 prize.

The Gravitational Physics Group at the IOP is inviting submissions for their annual thesis prize.  Recent graduates from PhD programs in any area of gravitational physics, or other related areas, are strongly encouraged to apply.  Details are as follows:

Terms of reference, and elligibility
The prize is awarded for excellence in research and communication skills, as demonstrated by the candidate’s thesis.  All members of the IOP Gravitational Physics Group who passed their viva voce exam during the period 1st January 2012 and 31st December 2014 are elligible.

How to enter
Candidates should email an electronic copy of their thesis to Timothy Clifton, and complete the application form.  All sumissions should be made before the 31st of January 2015.

Furthermore, the winner will be invited to submit a paper to Classical and Quantum Gravity based on the winning thesis which, if accepted, will be made a ‘select article’ in CQG.  They will also be given the opportunity to present their work at one of the UK ‘BritGrav’ meetings. 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

IOP GPG thesis prize awarded to Dr Anna Heffernan

Clifford Will

Clifford Will is the Editor-in-Chief of Classical and Quantum Gravity, Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Florida, Chercheur Associé at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, and James McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis.

I am delighted to announce that the IOP’s Gravitational Physics Group’s thesis prize for 2014, co-sponsored by Classical and Quantum Gravity, has been awarded to Dr Anna Heffernan for her eloquently written thesis on the self-force problem in gravitational physics, and for her detailed calculation of the singular component of the divergent fields that arise.

Dr Heffernan obtained her PhD from University College Dublin, under the supervision of Prof. Adrian Ottewill.  She currently works at Continue reading