Meet the People at the BHI
My interest in black holes originates from my exposure to astrophysics and astronomy as a high school student (I attended an astrophysics camp on stars and galaxies, got curious about quantum mechanics and general relativity, and wrote my high school graduation thesis on the evolution of stars for which I won the First Prize from the Austrian Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics). To acquire the tools to tackle the puzzles of black hole physics I decided to become a theoretical physicist. With a Master’s degree in Physics from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria I went on to obtain my Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at the IPhT-CEA/Saclay and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France on the topic “Black Holes in String Theory: Guides to Quantum Gravity”. After a 3 year stint as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara I am now a postdoctoral fellow at the BHI and the Department of Physics at Harvard University. Starting in 2017 I will be a CNRS faculty member at the CPhT at Ecole Polytechnique in France.
The profound conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics which is most prominently exposed by the black hole information paradox has swung back and forth for nearly four decades. Black holes provide an ideal playground for attempting to unmask the secrets of quantum gravity and as such are key protagonists in my work. I am using techniques and insights from string theory, classical supergravity, holography, quantum information theory, entanglement, and decoherence to address open questions about black holes and their microstates. One aspect of my work studies the idea that the horizon of a black hole is modified by the extended objects of string theory (strings, D-branes, KK monopoles) to solve the information paradox, in particular, how such horizon-scale structure can arise from dynamical processes and what the consequences are for infalling observers. Another goal of my research is to make progress in understanding the conjectured duality between Kerr black holes and conformal field theories which could pave the way for a microscopic understanding of astrophysical black holes.