Carnegie Mellon University
December 19, 2022

Da Vinci Society Honors New Physics Professor

By Heidi Opdyke

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Antonella Palmese is new to the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Physics, but its members are not unknown to her.

"Carnegie Mellon has a strong background in galaxy surveys," said Palmese, who joined the university in November. She is involved in the Dark Energy Survey, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, each of which has representation from the Carnegie Mellon faculty. "Researchers like Scott Dodelson and Rachel Mandelbaum are very well known in the field."

Palmese, an assistant professor in physics and member of the McWilliams Center for Cosmology, studies the evolution of the universe and the evolution of galaxies using large galaxy surveys and gravitational waves. For her research she uses optical telescopes and galaxy surveys to find the light from catastrophic events giving rise to ripples of space-time that can be detected from collisions between neutron stars or black holes.

Palmese's work dovetails with other cosmology research in the Department of Physics.

"With expertise in weak lensing, gravitational waves and working to understand dark matter and the expansion of the universe, we combine different probes that are very complementary to each other to improve constraints on cosmological parameters and understand more about problems that are arising from different cosmological measurements" she said.

Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, she was a NASA Einstein Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Because of her work there, the Leonardo Da Vinci Society of San Francisco in collaboration with the Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation Bay Area Chapter recently honored Palmese with a Da Vinci award for engineering/math and physics. The award recognizes early career researchers working in the San Francisco Bay area.

"As a foreigner abroad, you always feel like you don't really belong anywhere — neither the country you're in or your home country," said Palmese, who is from Italy. "It's always nice to have recognition that's related to my home country."

Palmese earned her undergraduate and master's degrees from La Sapienza University of Rome. She earned her doctorate at University College London where she worked on the Dark Energy Survey. In 2018, the Royal Astronomical Society honored her as runner-up for the Michael Penston Prize for the best astronomy doctoral thesis in the United Kingdom.

Before joining Berkeley, she was a postdoctoral research associate at Fermi National Laboratory and an associate fellow at the University of Chicago.