2020 Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellowship recipient Lukas Hergt's research looks at the very early evolution of our Universe, even before the first structures (galaxies, stars, planets) formed.
I am broadly interested in the very early evolution of our Universe, even before the first structures (galaxies, stars, planets) formed. To that end I use data from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is the left-over radiation from the Big Bang and which has travelled for over 13 billion years to reach us today. This background radiation has very characteristic statistics against which I can test various theoretical models of the initial conditions of our Universe. My work makes heavy use of Bayesian inference methods, allowing me to perform high-dimensional parameter estimation and model comparisons. I am also interested in exploring how these methods might help us quantify tensions between datasets.
Why did you decide to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at UBC? Did you consider other opportunities?
The cosmology group here at UBC is part of the biggest upcoming CMB experiments in the world. And besides academic excellence, Vancouver also offers an immense quality of life.
What specifically attracted you to your research group?
I think my supervisor has worked on every aspect of cosmology by now, which will be a great help in broadening my expertise beyond the specilization that I acquired during my PhD.
What advice do you have for new postdoctoral fellows?
If you can, avoid moving during a pandemic...
What do you like to do for fun?
I love a good day outdoors, going hiking and climbing and swimming in the sea. But I equally enjoy a cosy board game evening with friends.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your postdoctoral fellowship?
I love that I am allowed to work on these interesting and challenging topics. Research in Cosmology doesn't really exist outside of academia.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced, or anticipate facing, in your career?
Writing up your PhD during a pandemic while having to plan a transatlantic move with quarantine times was definitely a challenge.
What in your life or career has prepared you for this position?
My research during my PhD has provided me with all the tools that I hope to apply now to new and upcoming experiments.
What does receiving this award mean for your career?
This fellowship allows me to develop more research independence and to gather more experience in supervising others. I hope I can use this fellowship as a stepping stone towards a permanent position in academia.