Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Dates: Oct 2014-Sep 2019
Summary: My research is in the field of cosmology -- which studies the evolution and structure of the entire universe. In particular I work on a phase of the universe's evolution which occurred when it was extremely young, called inflation. During inflation the universe grew extremely rapidly, making the observable universe extremely smooth, but at the same time expanding tiny quantum fluctuations to become small over and under densities in the matter distribution of the universe. These small differences, called perturbations, in the density of the universe later collapse under gravity to from structures -- galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Inflation therefore explains why we see a smooth universe around today when we average the universe on the very largest scales (scales bigger than clusters of galaxies), but also explains why on smaller scales there is structure in the universe.
Currently I am working on novel ways to calculate the statistics of the perturbations produced by different models of inflation. These can be compared with data we collect about the real universe, allowing these models to be tested. Because inflation occurred when the universe was very young, it was extremely dense at this time, and very high energy particle physics beyond the Standard Model would have been in operation. Testing models of inflation developed within these theories therefore opens a window to exploring particle physics at energy scales far beyond anything which can be reach in particle accelerators on earth. I am working on greatly improving our ability to do this.