I grew up in Poland in the final years of communism, moving to the UK for high school in the final years of Margaret Thatcher. I followed up a physics degree at Cambridge by a short digression in finance. Changing my mind yet again, I travelled to the US to study for a PhD at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Sean Carroll and Wayne Hu, where I worked on models of modifications of gravity which could account for the late-time acceleration of the universe. Following post-docs at New York University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany, I now find myself standing at the boundary of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans testing which way the wind is blowing.
What inspired you to study science, and astrophysics?
I think that I suffer from an existential need to categorise the world around me, order it in some way and put it in boxes. Science provided a scheme. Physics appealed because the number of labels was much smaller than elsewhere. It’s all billiard balls or the harmonic oscillator. To think that we can understand the universe in this way seemed audacious and still seems unbelievable.
Do you have a role model in science?
Unfortunately, only slow-roll models are allowed by the latest data.
A quote that inspires you?
“It is dangerous be right in matters in which the authorities are wrong.” Voltaire
Dark energy and theories of gravity. I think a lot about scalar fields in the context of general relativity, their health and purpose. And I worry whether we will ever be able to unambiguously test these ideas.
Favourite reference papers:
Sad to say, increasingly Facebook.