I was born in New York, USA, and after getting my undergraduate degree at Yale, took a year off to work on the atmospheric chemistry of the ozone hole before going to the University of Chicago to get my PhD with Mike Turner and Josh Frieman. I did my first postdoc at CITA in Toronto where I was lucky enough to work with Nick Kaiser and Dick Bond, and where I got my first taste of analyzing cosmological data.
I then went to Berkeley for another postdoc where I worked with the MAXIMA and BOOMERANG CMB ballooning teams and then finally on to Imperial College. Nowadays, I still work on the CMB and other projects in cosmology in general and data analysis in particular (and try to be as rigorous a Bayesian as possible!). I still spend most of my time working as a co-Investigator in the Planck collaboration, where I work on subjects as disparate as measuring the telescope’s optical beams and trying to use the data to put limits on the large-scale topology and geometry of the Universe.
I live in London with my amazing wife and our beautiful new baby daughter.
What inspired you to study science, and astrophysics?
One of my earliest memories was of an Apollo moon launch in the early 1970s, sitting in nursery school and watching the rocket rise up to space on a tiny black and white television. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to do something related to space and science.
Do you have a role model in science?
When I was in high school, I read Freeman Dyson’s “Disturbing the Universe”, and was lucky enough to hear him speak at our school, only 50 or so miles away from his base at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. Although I could never be as simultaneously insightful and broad-ranging as he has been through his long career, his life and career has always been an inspiration.
A quote that inspires you?
“The whole point of science is that most of it is uncertain… The public, of course, imagines science is just a set of facts. But it’s not. Science is a process of exploring, which is always partial. We explore, and we find out things that we understand. We find out things we thought we understood were wrong. That’s how it makes progress.” – Freeman Dyson (see above)
Cosmology, data analysis, Bayesian Statistics, gravitational waves
Favourite reference papers:
The statistics of peaks of Gaussian random fields, J M Bardeen, J Richard Bond, N Kaiser, and A S Szalay, ApJ, 1986 vol. 304 pp. 15-61, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-data_query?bibcode=1986ApJ…304…15B