Dr. Laura SbernaJunior Scientist/Postdoc
I have broad research interests in cosmology and gravitational wave physics, touching both observational and theoretical aspects.
My research in gravitational wave astronomy focuses on environmental/matter effects in binary systems. These range from acceleration, friction and mass accretion effects in black hole binaries located in active galactic nuclei, to the mass transfer occurring in galactic binaries containing a white dwarf or a neutron star. My goal is to accurately model the impact of environmental effects on gravitational wave signals, and use them to extract information about binary formation, population, and cosmology.Recently, I have also investigated the higher order interactions between black hole perturbations, with an application to the very final phase (the “ringdown") of binary mergers. Minute higher order effects in the ringdown are still poorly understood at the theoretical level and could have an impact on our ability to test general relativity. In the past, I worked on quantum cosmology for the early universe, using the gravitational path integral. I also worked on constraining the nature of dark matter trough electromagnetic observations.
I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Physics at Sapienza University of Rome in 2016. I then moved to Canada to pursue a PhD at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Waterloo, Ontario. At Perimeter, I studied quantum cosmology and gravitational physics under the supervision of Prof. Neil Turok. I completed my PhD in January 2021 and joined the AEI soon after.