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Enrico Specogna
University of Sheffield, UK

What is your name, affiliation, academic position, and job title?
Hi! My name is Enrico, and I am currently studying for a PhD in Cosmology at the University of Sheffield, in the UK. As for many of the those who take part into the CosmoVerse initiative, my day-to-day job is to look for ways around the problematic tensions between theory and data that characterise our current cosmological picture.

What is your field of research and/or what project are you involved in?
The focus of my project are ‘cosmological tensions’. The latter is a definition that aims at broadly describing the inconsistent results that arise when we take into consideration data measured from different cosmological phenomena and use them to test our best description of the universe to date: the ‘LCDM model’ of Cosmology. An example is the tension on the LCDM parameter called ‘Hubble constant – H0’, which measures the expansion rate of the universe. H0, within the LCDM model, does not have a definite value: its extrapolation from CMB radiation measurements is more than 5sigma lower than the value obtained from Type-Ia Supernovae observations. At the moment, I am making heavy use of CMB data from missions such as Planck, SPT and ACT to investigate whether parameters such as H0 can be estimated consistently within models beyond LCDM, by either extending its parameter space or even considering modifications to its underlying theory: General Relativity.

What are your research plans?
The main aim during my PhD will be to learn as much as I can! The field of cosmological tensions, as specific as it may sound, is a vast landscape of interesting possibilities by the point of view of theories that can be tested and new data analysis techniques beyond the Bayesian paradigm. My hope is to gain the broadest possible picture of the ramifications that my research could follow; what I will be doing after my PhD strongly depends on the tools that this learning experience will equip me with!

How does CosmoVerse fit within those plans?
CosmoVerse has already provided me with plenty of very valuable experiences. Besides the weekly seminars on the multiple, different aspects of cosmological tensions, I have had the luck to win a grant for one of its STSMs. This research opportunity allowed me to start a new project centred on the application of Neural Networks methods in the analysis of modified gravity models.

What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
The search for a solution to our problems with the LCDM model is surely one of the hottest topics in Cosmology and, more generally, in modern Physics; it is part of the broader goal of cosmologists to uncover the fundamental mechanisms that drive the evolution of the observed universe. In fact, the transition beyond the LCDM paradigm also represents our effort to answer other fundamental questions such as: is the Universe really flat? What is the true nature behind the acceleration of the universe?

What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
Even though this is a very long term goal for the astrophysical and cosmological communities, the prospect of using gravitational waves to test cosmological theories with a precision comparable to our current CMB data is something I’ve found quite exciting since my years as a Master’s student. However, even if probes like LISA will be launched in the 2030s, something can be done much sooner. For instance, improvements in the detection of the B-mode polarization at large angular scales by near-future CMB experiments could help us to study the gravitational waves generated in the very early universe; their existence is predicted by the theory of Inflation, an essential ingredient of the LCDM model.

What is your view on cosmic tensions? How does your work connect with this open question in the community?
Cosmic tensions seem to me like a clear signal that the community should move to a new, testable description of how the Universe is expanding and how the structures within it evolve. This point of view is clearly reflected in my continuous effort to take models beyond LCDM and test them with the wealth of precise cosmological measurements currently in our hands.

What role do you think a community network like CosmoVerse can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology?
In my view, a vital aspect of initiatives like CosmoVerse is their interdisciplinarity: at the heart of modern Physics and Science are collaborations that always include people from different backgrounds, with complementary skills and preparation. CosmoVerse perfectly reflects this idea, as we can see from its diverse Working Groups, which span from data to theory.