I am an experimental astrophysicist with a strong passion for developing new instruments that will enable ground-breaking discoveries. My specialities are X-ray and gamma-ray polarimetry and spectroscopy, and applications to the observation of mass-accreting neutron stars and black holes. These objects are not only the brightest X-ray sources in our Galaxy, but also provide us with an opportunity to study the most extreme environments in the Universe.
I am the the PI of the SCOTTI project (Superconducting Titanium Imager), whose goal it is to build a balloon-borne hard X-ray telescope utilizing novel gamma-ray detectors using transition edge sensors. These cryogenic detectors will allow an unprecedented spectral resolution for soft gamma-rays. My dream is to one day build a hard X-ray space telescope with this kind of detector.
X-ray polarimetry promises insights into the geometry of astrophysical objects that are too small to be imaged by any telescope at any wavelength. I am the instrument scientist of the balloon-borne hard X-ray polarimeter X-Calibur. This instrument will measure the X-ray polarization of several Southern Hemisphere sources during its first long-duration balloon flight. A follow-up mission called XL-Calibur will make much more detailed measurements of several sources during multiple Southern and Northern hemisphere flights. I am also part of the science team of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, a NASA satellite mission that will explore the polarization of X-rays in the 2-8keV energy band, scheduled for launch in early 2021.
Finally, I like to use astrophysical observations to test fundamental laws of Physics. For example, I have written several papers using time-of-flight measurements of gamma-rays and various polarization measurements in the optical band to constrain violations of Lorentz invariance, the fundamental symmetry of Einstein's theory of Special Relativity.