Interview with Luca Visinelli

Hej! My name is Luca, 34, Italian. I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I was 5, at that time I was fascinated by prehistoric animals, to the extent that in high school I chose the scientific specialization (yes, in Italy you make such life choices at 14!!) to become a biologist. Then, two things occurred: 1) I had a great high-school physics teacher that made me love it, and 2) at biology classes I always pushed to get the reason behind things, but the reason for biology is chemistry, whose reason is physics, so at the end of high school the choice of the University major was “only natural.” I studied physics both at the University of Bologna (bachelor) and at the University of Utah (master-PhD).

What is your field of research and/or what project are you involved in at the OKC?
With colleagues, I’m broadly working on various aspects at the interface of particle physics and cosmology, from the theoretical physics perspective. I work on models of dark matter, inflation, and recently also on primordial black holes. In the past, I have also studied some aspects of neutrino oscillations.

What do you like/dislike about being a scientist?
Being a scientist is the best choice I could take. It’s so satisfying to have the freedom to pursue personal interests and to get in touch with great people from the whole world. On the other side of the coin, the job market is narrow and the job is very time-demanding, although this second point is relieved by the fact that you pursue what you like.

What are your research plans for your time in Sweden?
Get out as many papers as possible and get in touch with the largest number of people. Sweden, OKC, and my supervisor Katherine Freese have given me a great opportunity to meet the best people in the world that actively work on my topics of interest, so I am both working on the interests I mentioned before and getting new ideas to tackle together with old and new colleagues.

Which of your skills are you most proud of?
Let me mention two, stubbornness and being very good at solving equations. So far, I have always managed to combine these two skills to find a strategy to solve most given problem. I stress that stubbornness is a very precious quality, since problems might take weeks or even months before they are solved.

What’s your favorite food?
Pizza wins, but honorable mentions go to räksmörgås and anything that accompanies the fikapaus.

What advances and/or new results are you excited about?
Even if I don’t work on it, I am thrilled when I read about the steady progresses in neutrino physics. Neutrinos were postulated in the 30’s and discovered in the 50’s, yet we still know so little about them, for example we don’t know their mass and we can’t even answer the question “are neutrinos their own antiparticle?” We could soon be able to answer such a question, and the solution might even carry new physics with it.

Why did you choose the OKC?
I loved the idea of working with my current supervisor on current topics, plus I loved Stockholm since I visited it during high school (I have a Vasa replica at home in Italy from the period). I am very lucky since all of the students and postdocs working in my group are excellent colleagues and friends. It’s a great environment and coming to work is joyful every day.

What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
Frankly, I hope for clean environment solutions for our energy needs, in a place where self-driving cars have drastically reduced accidents, meat mass production has lowered, diseases are checkable way beforehand and possibly cured.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
Albanova gym, the training staff is very passionate and helpful. I also enjoy walking around Stockholm.

Luca is a researcher (forskare) who came to the OKC in September 2016.
Thanks Luca and enjoy the fikabröd!

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