Meet the SO Scientist Simone Aiola

Meet Simone!


Many people ask me why I chose Cosmology over other “more concrete” fields, and my answer is always “wouldn’t you do something that keeps you awake at night (and lets you travel a lot)?!”. I have been working on the Cosmic Microwave Background since I was an undergraduate student in Rome (Italy), where I investigated different designs for future balloon-borne experiments aiming to detect the signature of the first instances of the universe (called Inflation). During my masters, I worked on two aspects of the proposed Large-Scale Polarization Explorer: optimizing the strategy for pointing our telescope and putting our raw data into maps of the sky (in this field we call this “map-making”). In 2012, I moved to the US and started my graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh under the guidance of Prof. Arthur Kosowsky, with the desire of focusing on more theoretical aspects of cosmology. For a couple of years, I studied the statistics and anomalies of CMB photons that emanate from two points on the sky that are far apart (i.e. large angular scales). Following these studies, I got involved with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope collaboration and started working in three quite different areas ranging from analyzing the raw data to looking for cosmological signals (for the experts out there… map-making, time-domain analyses, as well as the detection of the kinetic Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect via pair-wise momentum). In September 2016, I became a postdoc at Princeton University, where I have the pleasure to keep analyzing the raw data coming from the ACTPol/AdvACT polarimeters, making high-quality CMB maps, and, more recently, looking at the gravitational-lensing effects of CMB photons coming from nearly the same point on the sky (i.e. small angular scales).

As a member of the SO collaboration, I am active in the time-domain working group. There is a lot that can be learnt from currently operating CMB experiments, and this group can offer insightful guidance towards realistic forecasting and an optimized telescope design.

Although my work keeps me awake at night, I do like to set the weekends away from my job. I am not much of a “nature” person; rather I enjoy the vibes of big, vivid, and active European and American cities –– Princeton is only one hour away from either Philadelphia or New York City! I like art, photography (although I am not great at producing breath-taking shots), and good food, especially if I make it. I used to practice a lot of classical and modern dance when I was young. Currently, I moved that need to jump up and down in the gym, just to make sure that “mens sana in corpore sano (healthy mind in a healthy body)”.

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Darcy Barron