From DES: “DEScientist of the Week: Boris Leistedt”

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The Dark Energy Survey

April 22, 2016
The Dark Energy Survey

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Meet Boris Leistedt, Postdoc at New York University!

Boris’ primary research interest is data analysis.

We asked Boris a few more questions — here’s what he had to say:

What is your favorite part about being a scientist?

The people. Physics and astronomy are fascinating topics, but the job wouldn’t be the same without all the amazing people working in universities, research labs and institutes around the world. I feel lucky to know and collaborate with so many exceptional scientists who come from an incredible variety of backgrounds. Sharing a passion like physics with so many colleages (who sometimes become good friends!) is very precious and this is clearly what I enjoy the most in my job.

When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?

I’ve always been into sciences, maths and physics in particular, but I clearly remember the day I realized all my favourite topics converged in astronomy. I first studied electrical engineering at university but I eventually returned to physics by the end of my undergraduate curriculum, and it is a research internship that crystalized my interest in observational cosmology and pushed me to pursue a PhD.

What motivates / inspires you?

What motivates me most is to work on hard problems involving complicated data sets and interesting physics. In that respect cosmology is perfect because it currently has a unique position at the intersection of physics, mathematics, and computer science. To answer profound questions about the Universe, for example to know its age or dynamics, cosmologists analyse very large data sets gathered by telescope and satellites, and confront them to mathematical predictions. We typically use very advanced methods from other fields such as statistics and computer science. Knowing that pretty much any topic trending in these fields might be relevant to my work is very exciting.

Any advice for aspiring scientists?

Follow your dreams and never give up. You are clever enough to do whatever you want in life. The world is full of great people who will give you advice and support you. You just need to be vocal about your goals and to be ready to gather all the help you can. Don’t worry, you will have tons of opportunities to give it back and support others too in due course!

See the full article here .

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DECam, built at FNAL
DECam, built at FNAL
CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope
CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope interior
CTIO Victor M Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo which houses the DECAm

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is designed to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and help uncover the nature of dark energy by measuring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion with high precision. More than 120 scientists from 23 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Germany are working on the project. This collaboration [has built] an extremely sensitive 570-Megapixel digital camera, DECam, and [has mounted] it on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory high in the Chilean Andes. Started in Sept. 2012 and continuing for five years, DES will survey a large swath of the southern sky out to vast distances in order to provide new clues to this most fundamental of questions.