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HEPCAT Members

The HEPCAT group has over 20 members spanning a range of disciplines, from neural networks to quantum gravity. If you are interested in joining the group, please see theĀ Opportunities page.


Group Members

Amanda Weltman

My research focus is on the fundamental physics that underlies the nature of the Universe. My goals are to study the Universe as a whole, while gaining insight into its origin, composition, structure, evolution and ultimately its fate. To that end, I work in high energy theory - working on building successful theories (of gravity and matter) that might explain all known observations so far while making new predictions, for example Chameleon Gravity. I also work on using the tools of high energy physics to try to solve open problems in astrophysics. On the more observational side, I am currently fascinated with Fast Radio Bursts, not only in trying to understand their progenitor mechanisms but also in the ways in which we can use them to solve open problems in cosmology. I am one of the Lead Investigators on the HIRAX project which is a 21cm intensity mapping experiment that will allow us to both learn about dark energy and its evolution and learn a fortune about FRBs by observing many tens of thousands of them.

Shajid Haque

I am currently a Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town. Previously, I was a Lecturer at the University of Windsor, Canada. I was also a Visiting Assistant Professor in Colorado State University-Pueblo, USA. Prior to my faculty position in Windsor, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Witwatersrand and at the University of Cape Town. I obtained my Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Physics from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Then I started my Ph D at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, earning a Ph D in 2010 as a student of Professor Akikazu Hashimoto. I am interested in Quantum Information theory and Gauge/Gravity duality. Quantum Information is the perfect melting pot for integrating different areas of Physics, Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. The key ingredient for this unification is an information theoretic quantity called complexity. Presently, I am working on how complexity can be related to quantum chaos. Besides my research on Complexity, I am also interested in Cosmology and String Cosmology.

Jeff Murugan (Associate Member)
Professor and Deputy Dean of Science

As a mathematical physicist, my research interests lie primarily in understanding the mathematical structures that underpin much of the physical universe. Many of these structures are wonderfully universal, connecting physics on cosmological scales, to the smallest of quantum scales. My own work revolves largely around emergent phenomena, from condensed matter to neurophysics. My recent focus has been on low-dimensional dualities - where I was a co-discoverer of the 3D duality web - and topological quantum matter and information, including quantum chaos and complexity.

W. A. Horowitz (Associate Member)
Associate Professor

A microsecond after the Big Bang, all of space existed at a trillion degrees, one hundred thousand times hotter than the center of the sun. 13.8 billion years later, massive collaborations of thousands of scientists recreate these conditions of the early universe thousands of times a second in one of the most expensive and complicated science experiments ever attempted. Using perturbative quantum chromodynamics and the methods of the AdS/CFT correspondence I study the properties of these Little Bangs, ephemeral fireballs that--during their lifetimes of less than a billionth of a trillionth of a second--are droplets of the hottest, most perfect fluid in the universe.

Julien Larena (Associate Member)
Senior Lecturer

My work is centred on relativistic aspects of cosmology. In particular, I am involved in various projects focussing on general relativistic effects in cosmological large scale structure and their observations.

Kurt van der Heyden (Associate Member)
Senior Lecturer

My research interests are Radio continuum surveys and Galaxy clusters.

Jonathan Shock (Associate Member)

I have a background in high energy theoretical physics, focusing on using string theory to understand strongly coupled matter. My research is also now focused on using Machine Learning both as a tool for analysing big datasets (from cosmology to neuroscience) as well as in the framework of Reinforcement Learning to study cognition and awareness.

Nathan Moynihan

My research interests are mostly focussed on two areas: on-shell scattering amplitudes and quantum information theoretic measures in QFT. I am interested in utilising on-shell methods to probe theories of gravity, including theories other than general relativity. On the quantum information side, I am interested in understanding the roles of both entanglement entropy and computational complexity in quantum field theories, especially with a view to understanding aspects of gravity via the AdS/CFT correspondence.

Emma Platts
PhD Student

I am interested in machine learning and data science, with applications to astrophysics and cosmology.

Daniel Burger
PhD Student

My research is focused on the use of modem amplitude methods to better understand gravity. The developments during the last decade in amplitudes coupled with the advent of gravitational wave astronomy offers an excellent opportunity to combine these historically separate fields.

Ruach Pillay Slayen
PhD Student

My current research interests are in the mathematical structures governing the behavior of low-dimensional quantum systems in the presence of magnetic fields.

Kayla Hopley
MSc Student

I'm interested in the applications of the double copy to interesting theories of gravity. At the moment I am studying Black holes in Jackiw-Teitelboim gravity and their connection to sine-Gordon solitons.

Alexes Mes
MSC Student

The AdS/CFT correspondence can be used to qualitatively and quantitatively understand properties of the quark gluon plasma: such as the Brownian motion of a heavy particle within this medium. To model Brownian motion, one theorizes that the gravitational analogue of a particle immersed in a thermal medium (specifically a test quark in the quark-gluon plasma) to be a fundamental string in the AdS_5 space. Using the AdS/CFT correspondence, heavy quark evolution has previously been studied, for example by de Boer et al. (JHEP 0907 (2009) 094). My project aims to explore light quark evolution in a thermal medium by performing a numerical analysis of open string evolution in AdS_5 space (where we introduce and numerically evolve fluctuations on the string). The goal of this project is to better connect AdS/CFT calculations of light quark evolution in a strongly-coupled non-Abelian plasma to heavy ion collision data measured at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and at Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

Irvin Martinez
MSc Student

My main interest is to test fundamental physics with the most violent experiments in the universe such as mergers of binary black holes, tidal disruptions of stars and neutron star collisions (kilonova). I make use of effective field theory for gravity and numerical simulations to model gravitational wave sources and test gravity. I am also studying the application of deep learning for gravitational wave data analysis.

Rebecca Houliston
MSc Student

I am currently looking at the so-called 'Hubble tension'.

Jean-Gabriel Hartmann
MSc Student

My current research is focused on aspects of many-body quantum chaos. This is a fascinating field that has seen a confluence of interest from both the condensed matter and high-energy physics communities in the last few years. Specifically, I am studying a novel class of disordered spin networks, known as quantum small-worlds, which are analysed through modern diagnostics of chaos, such as the out-of-time-order correlation functions and spectral form factor.

Melissa Largier
Group Admin