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David Benisty
Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics & Kalvi Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge

What is your name, affiliation, academic position, and job title?
My name is David Benisty, and I am associated with the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, as well as the Kalvi Institute for Cosmology at the prestigious University of Cambridge.

What is your journey?
I was enrolled as a doctoral student at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and served as an affiliated researcher at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) in Germany.

What is your field of research and/or what project are you involved in?
I specialize in the field of gravity testing across various systems, with a particular focus on examining dark energy, which involves investigating modifications to Einstein’s equations that contribute to the expansion of our Universe. My research endeavours involve exploring novel astrophysical systems including Pulsars, Black Holes, and Binary galaxies to conduct these investigations.

Briefly describe your career trajectory to date. What positions have you held, when and where?
Prior to commencing my postdoctoral position at the University of Cambridge, I pursued my doctoral studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Additionally, until October 2021, I held a membership with the esteemed Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies.

What are your research plans?
My research aims to delve deeper into the nature of dark energy by investigating its properties across a range of novel astrophysical systems. To achieve this, I employ future measurements and leverage cutting-edge AI methods to probe the characteristics of the Cosmological Constant, as well as other potential modifications to our current understanding of dark energy. By combining these approaches, I strive to advance our knowledge and gain new insights into the fundamental workings of the Universe.

How does CosmoVerse fit within those plans?
The CosmoVerse project integrates various aspects of Cosmology and Astronomy to investigate the origins of cosmic tensions. In my research, I employ a multidisciplinary approach that leverages diverse methodologies, including Machine Learning techniques, to explore new astrophysical systems and their potential implications for understanding dark energy. By combining these different scopes, I aim to shed light on the intricate workings of the Universe and contribute to unravelling the mysteries surrounding dark energy.

Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
The integration of deep theoretical understanding, numerical modelling, and data analysis is crucial in enhancing the strength and value of my research statements. While deep theory provides a solid foundation, solely relying on it may overlook certain aspects and perspectives. Similarly, focusing solely on data analysis may lead to incomplete insights. However, by combining these skills, I can attain a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the subject matter. This interdisciplinary approach enables me to achieve a more holistic and reliable view, ensuring the robustness of my research findings.

What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
Having already gained experience in Machine Learning, I am eager to further expand my repertoire by incorporating additional Artificial Intelligence tools into my research. By embracing a broader range of AI techniques, I aim to enhance the depth and breadth of my analyses, enabling me to extract valuable insights and uncover new patterns and correlations within complex datasets.

What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
The most exciting open questions in my research area include the origin of dark energy, the determination of its value, and the exploration of different astrophysical systems to detect its effects.

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
I am particularly excited about the potential for novel measurements and research directions that can provide insights into fundamental questions about the origin of dark energy and refine our understanding of the correct theory of gravity. Discovering new avenues of exploration and uncovering fresh perspectives on these topics hold great promise for advancing our knowledge and potentially unlocking key insights into the nature of the Universe.

What is your view on cosmic tensions? How does your work connect with this open question in the community?
My perspective on cosmic tensions aligns with the idea that they may arise from unknown astrophysical effects that have not been fully accounted for, rather than being attributed solely to modified gravity theories.
In the context of my work, I contribute to addressing this question through new independent measurements for the Cosmological Constant by introducing a novel scope for investigating dark energy by analysing the motion of galaxies. This approach presents an alternative pathway to understanding dark energy, independent of traditional cosmological frameworks. By exploring the motion of galaxies, my research aims to uncover insights into the nature of dark energy, potentially shedding light on whether it can be solely attributed to the Cosmological Constant or if alternative models need to be considered.
In your career so far, at what point where you the most excited, and what were you excited about?
In my career so far, the point that has excited me the most was during the last seminar I presented. The reason for my excitement was the potential detection of dark energy from an entirely different scale. This discovery holds great promise for future research and opens new avenues that have not been explored before. The prospect of delving into uncharted territory and making groundbreaking contributions to the field of dark energy research was truly exhilarating for me.

What is the biggest obstacle that is slowing down your research field right now?
The biggest obstacle in my research field right now is the process of securing research funds and positions, which can potentially slow down progress. This involves facing competition for limited opportunities and dedicating significant time and effort to applications and administrative tasks.
What role do you think a community network like CosmoVerse can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology?
A community network like CosmoVerse plays a vital role in advancing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology. By providing a platform for researchers from diverse fields to connect and collaborate, it promotes interdisciplinary dialogue and knowledge exchange. This interaction enables researchers to draw upon different perspectives, methodologies, and expertise, leading to the generation of innovative ideas and approaches. Through joint projects, collaborative research, and engaging discussions, CosmoVerse facilitates the exploration of fundamental questions in cosmology, pushing the boundaries of knowledge in the field. By harnessing the collective wisdom and diverse insights of its members, CosmoVerse contributes to the development of theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology, driving scientific progress and fostering a vibrant research community.

What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
There are certain aspects that scientists may find challenging. One of the common concerns is the inherent instability, particularly during the early stages of their career. Securing stable positions and funding can be competitive and uncertain, which can create a sense of instability and hinder the ability to fully dedicate oneself to research. This can sometimes lead to financial and professional uncertainties.

What’s your favourite food? Why?
Indian food thanks for my mother (originally from India).

Your favourite scientist and/or science fiction film?
Richard Feynman and Star Wars.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
After a challenging day of work, I find relaxation and rejuvenation in spending time with friends and engaging in stimulating discussions about new research ideas.

What non-physics interests do you have and want to share?
I enjoy singing Andalusian music as a hobby that I developed during my high school years when I was involved in Jewish religious activities. This unique music style blends elements from various cultures, including Spanish, Arabic, French, Greek, and others, and has a history spanning 600 years.

If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
If I were not a scientist, I believe I would likely pursue a career as a Data Scientist or Algorithm Developer. Given my experience in model building and data mining, these fields align closely with the skills and interests I have developed throughout my research endeavours. Utilizing data to extract insights, develop algorithms, and solve complex problems is an area that continues to captivate my attention and where I believe I could make meaningful contributions.

What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
Gaining a comprehensive understanding of dark energy and modified gravity entails exploring these phenomena across various energy scales. It involves establishing a strong theoretical foundation and developing observational frameworks to deepen our knowledge and comprehension. By integrating theoretical and observational approaches, we can strive to attain a robust understanding of dark energy and modified gravity, unravelling their fundamental properties and their impact on the dynamics of the Universe.

In your view, what’s the most important challenge that humanity faces currently?
Promoting freedom and equality between nations and races requires diplomacy, international cooperation, human rights advocacy, education, economic justice, empowerment of marginalized communities, and raising awareness.