UCL Astrophysics Group


Alumni Career Profile - Luisa Lucie-Smith

Luisa completed her PhD with Prof. Hiranya Peiris in cosmology.

Luisa Lucie-Smith
My PhD experience at UCL was wonderful, both on a professional and personal level. I worked at the interface between machine-learning, structure formation physics and numerical simulations. We developed machine learning techniques that can be used to learn something new about the underlying physics responsible for the formation of dark matter halos in the Universe, going beyond what was achieved with traditional approaches over the last decades. The explorative nature of my work made my PhD a very creative and fun journey throughout. There are too many memorable moments of my PhD, most of which are best not to be public. One of the highlights was definitely when Mike Barlow trusted me enough to give me the codes for opening post-seminar drinks tab at the Housman Room bar. I suddenly had a huge amount of power and respect from the rest of the students :) Astrophysics group in 3 words: fun, interdisciplinary and supportive. 
I am now a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) in Garching, Germany, working on my own research program developing interpretable machine learning tools applied to cosmological structure formation. I am particularly interested in understanding the final characteristic properties of dark matter halos and their relation to the initial conditions of the Universe, as well as the connection between halos and galaxies. What attracted me the most about the job at MPA is that it is a fully-independent fellowship, where I can pursue my own line of research together with world-experts in cosmology and numerical simulations working at MPA. The work I did in my PhD at UCL set the foundations of the line of research I plan to follow-up in the next years of my career. On top of my research work, I cannot thank enough the Astrophysics group for providing me with so many learning opportunities that helped me develop as a young scientist. In 5 years time, I hope to have become an established researcher in my field and on track for a good career in Astrophysics!