What is your position or role in the DESI project?
I am co-organizing the work in relation with a sample of 10 million bright galaxies (Bright Galaxy Survey, BGS) that DESI will observe at low redshifts. I am also in charge of organizing the DESI meeting in my research group at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham, in the UK.
Where were you born?
I was born in France, in the suburb of Paris. I did all my studies in France, including my PhD.
Where do you live now?
Since January 2019, I live in Durham in the UK. I have started a postdoc at Durham University.
What do you do as part of DESI?
DESI has been designed to understand the late-time acceleration of the expansion of the universe, the so-called dark energy. My first contribution to DESI is related to the Bright Galaxy Survey (BGS): since January 2019, I have been working on the selection of BGS targets from the imaging surveys that DESI will spectroscopically observe. For this project, I am co-supervising a PhD student at Durham, which means that we meet every week to have an update on the progress he made, we define the next steps, and we identify the issues. DESI has just started a very exciting period with the first spectra, which means that we can actually start testing our selection with real data. I am involved in these tests, such as: do we obtain the density of objects we expect? In parallel, I am also working on personal research projects. For instance, I developed a new method to measure the cosmic distance using BAO which is based on the cross-correlation between a sample of spectroscopic quasars from eBOSS and a sample of photometric galaxies from DESI imaging surveys.
What is the most interesting or exciting thing about DESI?
DESI is the first new generation of sky surveys which is actually taking data, which means that this period is very exciting and the next 2-3 years will be super exciting as we will be analysing the first data with an unprecedented precision to obtain information on the late-time acceleration of the cosmic expansion. I remember that when I was looking for a postdoc after my PhD, I only applied to institutions who were involved in DESI.
There are many personal things that I find really exciting in my job:
- I learn something new almost every day and with DESI this is even more true as we are pushing the limits in terms of instrument, photometry, size of the samples…
- I am able to measure and interpret parameters that describe the universe, like the evolution of the distances between galaxies! And with DESI we should be able to say whether this mechanism has constant properties (like a cosmological constant) or whether it varies with time (dark energy models). We will also test our theory of gravitation based on General Relativity (GR) and see whether it is still valid at cosmological scales. If not, can we explain the late-time acceleration of the expansion by modifying GR?
In general, what I find the most interesting in research is the fact that there is no book that can tell me what the next step is, I have to find it myself!
Any advice for an aspiring scientist?
I will give the advice that I found the most relevant when I followed a training organized by the program L’Oreal For Women in Science (In 2018 I received one of the 30 fellowships they propose every year for female PhD students and postdocs in science):
- Believe in yourself and in what you can do
- Go step by step: it may sound unfeasible to become an astrophysicist because the studies are long and competitive but try to succeed every year as best as you can and one day you will realize that tomorrow this is your PhD defense!
- Go for it: size the opportunities
- Get out of your comfort zone
What do you do for fun?
My day-to-day work is intellectual only so I need and I love doing physical activities when I don’t work: I love hiking, running and swimming, sports in general, it helps me regenerating. I also love the music, I would like to sing again in a choir and in a band and I play the piano.