Sophia Gad-Nasr, PhD Candidate in Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.
Sophia Gad-Nasr is a 6th-year PhD candidate in cosmology and astroparticle physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and will be hooded on June 17 in the Bren Events Center.
Under her advisor Manoj Kaplinghat, she will be defending her thesis in September 2023. Sophia’s work aims to learn about how an invisible and untouchable substance called dark matter behaves and affects the evolution of galaxies through the use of simulations and computational methods. An avid science communicator, Sophia enjoys spending her free time talking about the mysteries of the Universe to share the awe and wonder of it all with her followers.
What is your favorite memory at UCI?
My favorite memory at UCI happened when I took the science communication class with Sandra Tsing Loh. After I edited my practice talk about dark matter for the class and gave the new version with all her amazing suggestions, she had me modulate between high and low pitches for emphasis. It was so much fun to get to talk about my work while learning how powerful modulation is!
What are your plans after graduation?
I will be attending the Technion in Israel as a Zuckerman Postdoctoral Fellow, where I will get to continue studying the Universe through simulations.
Manoj Kaplinghat taught me so much about my field, about how to ask the right questions, and how to work through bumps along the road in research. – Sophia Gad-Nasr
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have always seen myself working at NASA, having a hand in a mission that has to do with uncovering dark matter or learning more about black holes. So, in 5 years, my hopes are that I will be a postdoc through the NASA Postdoctoral Program, and on my way to landing a position as a researcher there.
Who was your biggest influence at UCI?
My biggest influence at UCI was my advisor, Manoj Kaplinghat. He has taught me so much about my field, about how to ask the right questions, and how to work through bumps along the road in research. I am so thankful to have had such an amazing advisor during these 6 years working on my PhD at UCI.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before coming to UCI?
One thing I really wish I did was take part in all the science communication programs here. I actually did know about them, but what I wish I was able to do was carve out time to fit these into my schedule, because the one class I did take turned out to be extremely valuable, and I’m sure the others would have been as well.
What are your hobbies or interests?
In my free time, I actually love talking about space and physics on social media and participate in science communication. I also enjoy taking time to play RPG video games like Final Fantasy, or watching TV shows and movies that are sci-fi or fantasy related. A TV show that I’m really looking forward to is season 2 of Foundation, which is a TV adaptation of the Foundation books by Isaac Asimov. I also enjoy interacting with my hamster Muini.