George F. Smoot, director
George Fitzgerald Smoot received the 2006 Nobel Prize for physics with John C. Mather for his contribution to the discovery of anisotropies in the Cosmic Microwave Background in 1992. George Smoot first studied mathematics, before turning towards physics. In 1970, he obtained a doctorate in particle physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), and quickly specialized in cosmology. He moved to the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he worked with Nobel Laureate (1968) Luis Alvarez.
After the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, George Smoot concentrated on the question still unsolved in this field: the Universe's structure at a large scale. Therefore, towards the end of the 1970s, he oriented his studies towards the detection of temperature variations, called anisotropies. He submited the proposal for a cosmology satellite to NASA. On the 18th of November 1989, COBE was launched. After more than two years of observation and studies, the COBE team led by George Smoot, announced the discovery of minuscule fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background, an event immediately praised by the scientific community. He tells the story of this adventure in his book "Wrinkles in Time", published in 1994.
In the last years, George Smoot has been very active in observational cosmology, through his participation in several experiments or projects and many scientific publications. George Smoot was hired as professor of the University Paris Diderot in February 2010. -->
Federico Piazza, PCCP fellow (2010-2013)
Federico Piazza graduated at the University of Parma with a thesis on dilatonic black holes under the supervision of Valeria Ferrari (Roma, La Sapienza). After the civil service, he moved on to his graduate studies in Milan under the supervision of Gabriele Veneziano. He got his PhD in 2002 with a thesis of title ``Gravity and Cosmology of the Dilaton at Strong Coupling". At the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation of the University of Portsmouth (UK), where he was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship, in parallel with his research in Cosmology he started exploring a ``pre-geometric perspective" which is at the basis of some of his following research.
After Portsmouth, he joined the Cosmology group at the Perimeter Institute of theoretical physics, in Waterloo, Ontario. His main research interests are the two cosmic epochs of accelerating expansion: inflation and dark energy.
He has recently proposed to tackle those problems with a modification of gravity at large distances of a rather unusual type. Among his most recent papers are also one on rapidly varying speed of sound during inflation (with Justin Khoury) and the study of a scalar dark matter candidate with interesting signatures for gravitational experiments (with Maxim Pospelov).
Marc Betoule, PCCP fellow
Marc Betoule completed his undergraduate studies at the Institut Supérieur de l'aéronautique et de l'espace (SUPAERO) in Toulouse. He moved on to his graduate studies in Paris and started his research on observationnal cosmology under the supervision of Jacques Delabrouille in the context of the preparation of the Planck mission. He defended his Phd thesis in 2009 on the subject of component separation for Cosmic Microwave Background datasets. When joining the Paris Supernova Cosmology Group at LPNHE, he turned to studying another cosmological probe constraining the dark energy: type Ia supernova.
He is involved in the data reduction of the Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS) and a joint analysis of these data with those of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Giulia Gubitosi, PCCP fellow
Studied at the University of Rome, where I also completed my PhD studies in 2010 under the supervision of Alessandro Melchiorri, working also in close collaboration with Giovanni Amelino-Camelia's group. My research interests are centered upon the opportunities given by cosmological observations to test fundamental physics, especially (but not necessarily) in the context of quantum gravity research. Besides cosmology, I have a strong background in theoretical physics. My Master thesis ("Noether analysis for field theories in canonical noncommutative spacetimes")
and some of the works I made during my PhD were about a quite formal approach to quantum gravity, known as noncommutative geometry, but I always kept an eye on the observational opportunities to test the predictions of this kind of theories... -->
Andrea Tartari, PCCP fellow
Andrea Tartari graduated at the University of Pavia in 2001 defending a thesis on the galactic spectral index at radio waves, in the context of the TRIS experiment carried out by the Radio Group of the University of Milano-Bicocca, led by prof. Giorgio Sironi. This study was oriented to the removal of galactic foregrounds in Cosmic Microwave Background experiments searching for its spectral distortions (TRIS, among others). In November 2001 he joined the Radio Group as PhD student, starting his activity in the field of CMB instrumentation and taking part to observational campaigns.
He defended a PhD thesis in June 2005, on the “Development of a sub-millimeter radio receiver for Cosmological Observations”, under the supervision of prof. Massimo Gervasi.... -->
Mark Jackson, PCCP fellow
Mark Jackson researches theoretical cosmology and superstring theory, understanding how fundamental physics can be extracted from cosmological observables. He received his PhD from Columbia in 2004 with Brian Greene, and has previously held postdoc positions at Fermilab and the University of Leiden.