My primary science area is cosmology, where I study cosmic structure in the Universe. This is an era dominated by dark matter and dark energy. Cosmology is a mature field where advances are being driven by experimental programs. Future progress relies on advanced technologies in both hardware, allowing us to acquire exquisite data, and software, where state-of-the-art algorithms will allow us to maximise our science returns.
Advanced statistical methods can also be applied to other areas in astronomy, such as exoplanets. For instance, I have written a software package, made publicly available, called PynPoint for the direct imaging of exoplanets. Given the growth potential of these two areas of cosmology and exoplanets based on hardware and software advances, my research goal is to build a world-class research program that will shed new light on our understanding on these exciting topics in astronomy.
I received my PhD from the Institute of Astronomy (IoA) at the University of Cambridge in 2005. After this, I began a postdoc at the CEA in Saclay, France, leading to the submission of the DUNE concept to the French Space Agency. This later evolved into ESA’s Euclid Space Mission. In 2008 I moved to ETH in Switzerland, where I worked initially as a Zwicky Prize Fellow before being promoted to the role of Senior Scientist in 2011. In July 2019, I joined the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) at the University of Portsmouth as a Professor of Cosmology with a Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship, where I will continue to grow my research in this exciting area of making discoveries enabled by our next generation of large cosmology experiments.
The 20th century brought about remarkable growth in our understanding of the physical world and ushered in a new era of modern physics. By the turn of the century, we had unified the four forces of nature into two iconic pillars: the standard model of particle physics and general relativity. Studies in cosmology are important because many of the phenomena that we have discovered, such as dark matter, are not well captured by either pillar and sit uncomfortably somewhere between the two. It is clear that one, or even both, of these central theories, will need to be extended to accommodate the overwhelming empirical evidence.
The cosmic microwave background radiation has allowed us to measure the state of the Universe roughly 400,000 years after the big bang in exquisite detail. The challenge for the next phase of cosmology is to bring this level of rigour and precision to measurements of the late-time Universe. This is where galaxies form and where the mysterious dark energy and dark matter begin to dominate. This is an exciting and dynamic frontier of research in fundamental physics and so I have devoted my work to prepare the needed experiments.
By combining the largest ever datasets in astronomy with the latest statistical methods, some coming from computer science and machine learning, we are entering a golden-age of late-time cosmology. There is enormous scope for ground-breaking scientific discoveries that could open a path for the new physics breakthroughs of the 21st century.