Settling in Heidelberg

My office

It has been nearly four months since my start at Heidelberg as an Emmy Noether Group leader. The transition has been smooth, and I feel almost completely settled in. I have successfully filled PhD and postdoc positions in my group. My office is now furnished, and I have made it cosy with various decorations. The only outstanding issue is finding permanent accommodation, but anyone who tried searching in Heidelberg can attest it is not an easy task. :)

One of the privileges of Emmy Noether’s position is being able to supervise PhD students. I am delighted that my PhD student Fabian got off to a good start. He produced exciting results with QCD kinetic theory code in the first couple of months. He will present our work at his first major conference—Hard Probes–in March. On the one hand, I am anxious about being the senior person on the paper because it is up to me to guarantee the quality of this work. On the other hand, I genuinely enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge with younger colleagues.

In addition, I had to fill a postdoc position in my group. This task turned out to be more challenging than I expected. On the positive side, I was overwhelmed by the number of excellent postdoc candidates applying with me. However, this presented me with the impossible problem of finding a unique ordering among several brilliant people with multi-dimensional experience and skills. The applicants are often faced with a similar situation of choosing the optimal career path. In the end, I am thrilled with the outcome of the search. Adam Takacs, currently a PhD student at Konrad Tywoniuk’s group in Bergen, will join my group at the end of the summer.

The first few months at Heidelberg have been hectic. In addition to setting up my group, I co-organised the second edition of the Quantum Systems in Extreme Conditions conference. The QSEC brought experts from distant fields (from cold atoms to highly charged ions to heavy-ion collisions) to discuss the common universal phenomena in isolated quantum systems. These questions are at the core of the Collaborative Research Centre ISOQUANT. I am pleased to join ISOQUANT again, this time as one of the Principal Investigators. I had a busy travel schedule with two trips to Paris, two trips to CERN and my first visit to Santiago de Compostela. This year is no different with a busy schedule of paper and proposal writing and travels planned nearly every month. On top of that, I will give lectures for the first time at Heidelberg Graduate Physics Student Days!

I lived in Heidelberg before, so it was easy to fall back into the routine. However, I want to discover new things during my second stay here. First, I found a lovely pottery studio in the middle of the old town, where I can enjoy Saturday mornings at the throwing wheel. After a few years of watching chess online, I finally picked up the courage to visit the local chess club. One noticeable change in Germany since my last stay is the booming vegan market. I got intrigued and have been trying out vegan recipes!

In summary, I am happy to be back at Heidelberg and look forward to future adventures. :)

Theoretical Physicist

I am a theoretical physicist working on many-body phenomena emerging from fundamental interactions of elementary particles.