I am a tenured assistant professor in theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam. I work on string theory, quantum gravity, black holes, holography and hydrodynamics of soft/active matter, astrophysics and quantum matter. I work with a group of postdocs, PhDs and master students in these subjects. I am also a long term visitor at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen.
I have a degree (licenciatura) in Engineering Physics (2007) from the University of Aveiro with one year (2006) in theoretical physics at Trinity College Dublin; a masters degree in advanced mathematics (Part III) from the University of Cambridge (2008); a PhD in theoretical physics from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen (2012); and a BA in philosophy from KU Leuven (2017). I had postdoctoral positions at the University of Bern (2013-2014) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (2015-2017) before joing the University of Amsterdam as an assistant professor (2018).
A substantial amount of my time is dedicated to understanding Emergence and coordinating the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena (DIEP), an interdisciplinary research centre bridging disciplines such as physics, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, logic and ecosystem dynamics.
In 2010 I founded the international science outreach platform and event series Science and Cocktails (S&C) running in 4 different cities and attracting more than 1000 people per event in Copenhagen. I received the Genius-prisen (Genius Prize) for science communication in 2014.
Throughout my career as a scientist I also worked on cultural and artistic projects. I’ve managed a newspaper, ran a cocktail bart/art gallery and cultural venues. I’ve been involved in various interactive art installations, music projects and book projects as an artist and in various art projects as a scientist. See more here.
My research spans a wide variety of topics in theoretical physics. I work on various aspects of string theory and black holes, in particular trying to find new black hole geometries and topologies and higher-dimensions, their holographic descriptions, and connections with brane dynamics, fluid dynamics and elasticity. Understanding how to break supersymmetry using branes is also a topic I like to think about.
But I also spend a significant amount of time applying string theory ideas and methodologies, in particular symmetry principles, to understanding the emergent hydrodynamic descriptions of many-body systems including quantum matter, soft/active matter, high-energy and astrophysical plasmas. This includes describing biomembranes; flows or elasticity of active agents (e.g. bacteria) on curved surfaces; odd responses such as odd elasticity or odd viscosity; describing jets off astrophyical black holes; describing accretion disks; describing plasticity in electronic crystals, etc.
I am part of the string theory group at the University of Amsterdam but I am also part of the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena DIEP, where I engage in interdisciplinary (complexity) research aiming at bridging different disciplines such as chemistry, mathematics, logic, ecosystem dynamics and computer science. I am currently thinking about how to understand the emergence of cooperation in various contexts.
At the University of Amsterdam I teach the interdisciplinary BSc course on Emergence and the MSc course String Theory II.