Category Archives: Featuring people

Wallenberg Academy Fellows to Matthew Hayes

Matthew Hayes
Matthew Hayes

The list of the young outstanding scientists who receive this year Wallenberg Academy Fellow grant was released today. One of them is Oskar Klein Centre member Matthew Hayes.

We congratulate him and ask him how it feels:  “Well, it feels very nice.  What can I say… these grants mean a great deal, and it really could not have come at a better time.  I can start to build a research group, which previously I have not had sufficient funding to do.  KAW have really secured my future in a way that will hopefully let me build some new and larger projects” says Matthew.

Matthew’s research is mainly  about galaxy formation and evolution, that is on how to infer the properties of galaxies from observation.  “To this end I am particularly interested in observing local galaxies with lots of active star formation – loosely termed starburst galaxies – with the Hubble Space Telescope, as these may be similar to many galaxies that we find in the earlier universe.  Looking at local galaxies with HST, we can do some extremely detailed observations, and pick galaxies apart both spatially and in the spectral dimension to see how stars and gas move.  At the same time I do similar sets of observations in the distant universe, mainly with ESO’s Very Large Telescopes in Chile, and piece together what we can measure in the distant universe armed with all the information we have gleaned from observing local objects.”

Matthew got his PhD at the Astronomy Department in Stockholm back in 2007. He then went for two postdocs, first at the Observatory of the University of Geneva, and then at the Institute of Research in Astrophysics and Planetology, Toulouse, France. He is back in Stockholm and to the Oskar Klein Centre since last year.

Congratulations Matthew!

Read also: Astronom och fysiker blir Wallenberg Academy Fellows

Interview with Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess
OKC fellow Michael Burgess
Michael Burgess joined the Oskar Klein Centre in mid-January as OKC fellow, after finishing his PhD in the US. His specialty is GRBs and that is why he joined with Felix Ryde in the KTH group.

Why did you choose the Oskar Klein Centre for doing a postdoc?
When I was working on my PhD I studied a lot from the research that was occurring within the gamma-ray burst team of the OKC. When the possibility opened that I could come work with them I jumped to take it. It was really my first choice after graduate school. In addition, I think Sweden has a generally forward looking view when it comes to science compared with the US. It is appreciated here and I wanted to work in that kind of environment. There are so many projects going on both within and outside my field here that I’m sure I will be able to expand upon my current skill set and perhaps become involved in other fields.

How would you describe the experience of working in the OKC so far?
It has been a great experience so far. The variety of research that is going on both within the OKC and the institute in general has provided me with lots of resources to learn new subjects and improve my skills within my own field. The wealth of knowledge here is fresh and exciting.

What is your field of research and the project you are involved with?
I study the gamma-ray spectra of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). My main project has been taking the theoretically predicted spectral models that have been around for some time and directly comparing them to the data instead of using the standard empirical models. The project has been quite fruitful and really builds upon work that has been occurring at the OKC for years. From this approach of physical modeling, we are extending the work done in the past with mainly empirical models and digging deeper into the structure of GRB jets and beginning to piece together the relatively unknown processes occurring in these star-shattereing events.

What do you find unique for your field of research about the OKC?
The experience with spectral analysis and physical modeling is uniquely high at OKC. In addition, the researchers such as Felix Ryde and the rest of the group, here have a very keen way of connecting the complicated nature of spectral analysis in GRBs to the bigger picture of the jet. It’s very close to storytelling and makes the science they do very accessible. The competence level of the team is also quite attractive. It’s nice to see that even graduate students here are involved in the decision making for new projects and have a high level of expertise.

Tell us something about you.
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia back in the states. When I was in school, there was a very good science program in that city and I wanted to study black holes from a very early age.
I went graduate school at the University of A with the Fermi Gamma-Ray Bursts Monitor (GBM) team. While doing research on GRBs, I also had lots of access to the instrument team and gained a lot from their nearly 3 decades of experience working on GRB detection. The GBM team is great with a vibrant history and I made lots of great friends within the team. However, I always wanted to move to Scandinavia for the warm weather and sandy beaches.

And that was indeed a good reason for moving to Sweden 🙂
Thank you Michael!

Interview with Timur Delahaye

Timur Delahaye is one of the OKC fellows working at the Cosmology, Particle astrophysics and String theory group (CoPS) since this summer. let’s get to know him better.

Where have you studied or did research before coming to the OKC?
I did my undergraduate studies at École Polytechnique near Paris. I then completed my Mas ter degree at the theoretical physics department of École Normale Supérieure in Lyon and did my Ph.D. with the IDAPP (International Doctorate on AstroParticle Physics) program both in Annecy and Turin under the supervision of Pierre Salati and Nicolao Fornengo. Autumn 2010, I moved to Madrid to do my first post-doc at the Instituto de Física Teórica (IFT) of the Universidad Autónoma where I stayed for two years. Last year I worked at the Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique Théorique (LAPTh) and the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (IAP).

What is your field of research?
I work in modelling the propagation of Galactic Cosmic Rays and Dark Matter indirect detection. Cosmic rays are high energy particle that are accelerated by exploding stars, by high magnetised stars called pulsars, and maybe by the annihilation or decay of Dark Matter particles. Even though cosmic rays have been discovered more than 100 years ago we still do not understand precisely where they come from nor how they propagate in the interstellar medium. In spite of being a rather young science, cosmic ray physics are is a wonderful way to look at things in the sky that do not emit light and cannot be probed by usual astronomy.

What I really enjoy in this field is that it is at the intersection of cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics and allows to interact with many people from very different fields.
Continue reading Interview with Timur Delahaye

Interview with Florian Kühnel

Today we publish an interview with one OKC fellow who joined us early this year to work in the Theory group.

Florian Kühnel
Can you tell us a bit of yourself? Where are you from?
I could start with: “It was a warm summer evening in ancient Greece…” (cit.) 😉
But let’s say: I am 32-years-old German, born and raised in a lovely region of North Rhine-Westphalia, called Lippe. I knew quite early in my life that I would like to be a theoretical physicist, which – with studies at Bielefeld University & École normale supérieure in Paris, work at the LMU in Munich as a postdoc, and now at the Oskar-Klein Centre – worked quite well so far… Besides my professional activities, and if time permits, I very much enjoy (full-frame) photography, writing poems, playing the blues harmonica, and dancing Tango Argentino; Oh, and not to forget my passion for good food… 🙂

Where did you study before?
I studied physics at Bielefeld University, with an Intermezzo at École normale supérieure in Paris where I worked on my Diploma thesis (equiv. to MSc. thesis) in the field of condensed matter physics – more specifically, I worked on disordered systems. Then, I changed to cosmology, where I have been fruitfully able to apply condensed-matter methods.
Continue reading Interview with Florian Kühnel

Interview with Oscar Stål

Oscar Stål is one of the OKC fellows working at the Cosmology, Particle astrophysics and String theory group (CoPS) since August 2012. He is doing his second postdoc and his filed of interest is particle physics phenomenology. He is Swedish and studied both as undergraduate and for his PhD at Uppsala University, before moving to Hamburg.

Can you tell us a bit of yourself? Where are you from?
I am 30 years old, and this is my second Postdoc. Before joining the OKC I spent two very nice years in the theory group at DESY, Hamburg. Originally I am from Enköping, which is a small town about 80 km west of Stockholm. I am married and we have a 2-year old son, Anton, who takes up most of my free time.

What is your field of research?
Broadly speaking, my area of research is particle physics phenomenology, that is theoretical work in close connection to experiment. The main experiment we consider at present (and probably for many years to come) is the LHC at CERN. To be somewhat more specific, my main interests lie in the phenomenology of physics beyond the standard model (SM), such as supersymmetry, with its interesting connections to electroweak symmetry breaking (the Higgs!) and also, of course, the dark matter. Continue reading Interview with Oscar Stål

Interview with Emily Freeland

Emily Freeland is one of the OKC fellows that joined the Oskar Klein Center after the summer. I asked her to tell us a bit about her research to get to know her better.

Hi Emily and welcome! Can you tell us a bit of yourself? Where are you from?
I am from the US. I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, did my graduate work at the University of Wisconsin with Eric Wilcots, and my first postdoc with the newly formed astronomy group at Texas A&M University with Kim-Vy Tran.

What is your field of research?

The main theme that runs through the majority of my research is an exploration of the role that environment plays in galaxy evolution. The universe has a filamentary structure and these filaments are populated by individual galaxies and groups of galaxies. The group environment is the most common environment in the local universe so characterizing its influence is an important part of understanding the physical processes affecting the majority of galaxies.

Isolated galaxies tend to be disky, gas-rich, and currently forming stars. At the other extreme, galaxy clusters contain thousands of galaxies, many of which are red in color, ellipsoidal in shape, and not forming new stars. Galaxy groups span the range of properties intermediate between isolated galaxies and clusters. In our hierarchical universe, galaxy groups are the building blocks of galaxy clusters and as such we would like to understand to what extent galaxy morphologies and star formation rates are transformed in the group environment prior to their assembly into clusters.
Continue reading Interview with Emily Freeland

Interview with Kanan K. Datta

Kanan Datta is one of the OKC fellows working at the Astronomy department since October 2009. He is doing his first postdoc studing the universe reionization, something that probably happened only about 200 million years after the Big Bang. He is originally from India, but he enjoys very much being in Sweden.

How do you like working at the Oskar Klein Centre?
I am quite satisfied. In the beginning it took some time to decide on the projects I want to work on, develop codes etc. So if I judge myself by the number of results I produced here, it is not so impressive. Nevertheless, together with my collaborators here I got some interesting new results and more results are coming up now. Apart from that, I think I learned a lot, developed some new tools which made me more confident than I used to be before I started my postdoc.

Socially, I really enjoy staying in Stockholm. It is a very beautiful city, very nice helpful people all around. This is the first time I am outside my country which made me worry before I came here. Everything was extremely new when I arrived in Stockholm. But I did not find any difficulty to settle here despite huge differences in culture, weather between Sweden and my home country India. I enjoy both very long nights during winter and also the long days in summer because they are new to me. It is also fun to walk on a frozen lake……

Why did you choose the OKC for doing your postdoc?
I always wanted to go outside my country for postdoc to work with experts in my field and learn something new and also for better scientific environment, facilities etc. So I agreed immediately when I got the postdoc offer from OKC. I am happy that I made this choice. I applied here because I wanted to continue my research on the reionization and probing it using 21-cm observations. Continue reading Interview with Kanan K. Datta

Interview with Antje Putze

Antje Putze is an Oskar Klein Fellow since october 2009. She is working in cosmic-ray physics and indirect dark matter detection.

You have been an Oskar Klein Fellow for more than 2 year, how is it going so far?
I am very much enjoying working at the OKC. In particular, the inspirational atmosphere within the centre is very fruitful for my work. I adjusted easily to the Swedish climate (especially the short winter days) and I love living in Stockholm.

Why did you choose the OKC for doing a postdoc?
The most compelling feature of the OKC is the broad spectrum of astroparticle physics subjects addressed by the OKC researchers. In particular, the interplay between experimental, phenomenological, and theoretical physics is very appealing to me. My Ph.D. focused on experimental cosmic-ray physics and phenomenology. The OKC gives me the opportunity to continue working in both areas (within the astroparticle group at KTH and the CoPS group at SU) while simultaneously broadening my knowledge base to other fields, such as indirect searches for dark matter.

Continue reading Interview with Antje Putze

Interview with Christopher Savage

Christopher SavageChristopher Savage is a Oskar Klein Fellow since the summer of 2009. He is working on direct detection of Dark Matter and seems to be very happy about it! I asked him to tell us more.

Why did you choose the OKC for doing a postdoc?
The broad focus on cosmology, with an emphasis on interaction between different areas, was very appealing. In addition, I had started working on capture of dark matter in stars and there is a lot of expertise in that area here in Stockholm (particularly Joakim Edsjö).

When I was given the offer, I was at a conference in Michigan with four OKC people in attendance (Marcus Berg and Joakim Edsjö plus PhD students Erik Lundström and Sara Rydbeck). That gave me a chance to see what the group was like and it made the decision an easy one.

What is your field of research?
My field of research is in the phenomenology of detecting dark matter, both directly and indirectly. The former case (direct detection) involves looking for interactions (scattering) of dark matter particles inside a detector, while the latter case (indirect detection) involves looking for products of dark matter particles that annihilate elsewhere.

Direct detection has long been a focus of my research and I continue to work in that area here at the OKC. I look at how various issues affect the signals seen in direct detection experiments, which might explain the apparent incompatibility between experiments that observe signals consistent with dark matter (CoGeNT, CRESST, and DAMA) and those that do not (CDMS and XENON, to name a few). The issues include how dark matter couples to ordinary matter, how the dark matter is distributed in the galaxy, and potential systematic issues in the experiments themselves (often involving energy calibrations). In addition, several of us (Yashar Akrami, Pat Scott, Jan Conrad, Joakim Edsjö and I) are looking at how direct detection results constrain supersymmetric models, which provide a natural candidate for a dark matter particle (the neutralino).
Continue reading Interview with Christopher Savage

Interview with a new Oskar Klein Fellow

Elena Moretti is the first of the about 300 applicants who was selected to become an Oskar Klein Fellow this year. She comes from a little country-side town, called Cartura, on the south of Padua in Italy, where she graduated in physics in 2006. She got her PhD in Trieste where she worked with the AGILE and Fermi experiments on GRBs. She developed a method that was used to calculate the flux upper limits on the GRB emission that was used in both experiments. In 2010 she moved to Stockholm working as a postdoc at the KTH. We ask her to tell us more about herself and the work she will be doing at the Oskar Klein Centre.

Congratulations Elena! You have been offered an Oskar Klein Fellowship. How does it feel?
It feels good! It gives me the opportunity to develop my newborn interest in the polarimetry field. Wen I came here 2 years ago I was working only in the high energy astrophysics field with the 2 gamma-ray experiments Fermi and AGILE. After one year a new interest was tickling me: PoGOLite. I started to work on it as a “side job” on my spare time….well I guess that would change soon.
Continue reading Interview with a new Oskar Klein Fellow