Alicia Castro knits quantum spacetimes for her PhD and wins the IMAPP PhD Award for Scientific Communication

Date of news: 1 February 2022

This year was the second edition of the IMAPP PhD Award for Scientific Communication, which is an open competition for all PhD students in their 3rd and 4th year at IMAPP. The award  recognizes excellence in scientific communication and the winner receives a €750 cash prize.

This year’s competition was fierce. Five candidates competed by presenting their work in 20 minutes to each other and an evaluation committee comprised of three members representing the three departments in IMAPP. The candidates did not make it easy for the jury. Ioan Marcut, jury member representing mathematics, thought that all talks were of such high quality that it was difficult to establish a winner. The jury heard about topology change in general relativity, the challenges in constraining super-symmetry, the mathematical properties of biofilm models and the link between baby universes and fractals in quantum gravity. Jury member Andrew Levan from astrophysics wished that all conference talks, seminars and colloquia were of similar quality, saying that “we would learn so much more”.

The winner of this year’s award is Alicia Castro, a PhD student in the high energy physics department working on quantum gravity. She won the award based on her excitement for the field and her research, the ease with which she presented a challenging topic in such a short time, and the absolutely beautiful slides that were not only artistic but also nicely supported her storyline. In her winning presentation, Alicia presented a new connection between Brownian motion and quantum geometry through the analogy of knitting. This connection was already known for two-dimensional geometries, but Alicia and her PhD supervisor Timothy Budd extended this to three-dimensional geometries.

Curious to hear Alicia’s talk yourself? Alicia will present her award-winning presentation during the next IMAPP colloquium. So stay tuned!

Afbeelding figuren behorende bij winnaar IMAPP communication award 2021_alicia castro

Figure: Overview of the different topics presented during this competition, with the winning presentation by Alicia in the center.