As a PhD candidate in Astroparticle Physics at the University of California – Irvine, Sophia Gad-Nasr began the investigation of dark matter that is now the heart of her postdoctoral research at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. The human lifespan is but a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of the cosmos, so we cannot physically watch a galaxy change and grow; we can only observe snapshots of their evolution in time. She believes that to understand how galaxies grow over time, we must use computer simulations to create toy universes that look like ours and follow the physics we have learned.
Dr. Gad-Nasr explores self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) halos, which undergo a process called gravothermal evolution that causes the central density of a halo to increase so much that it collapses and leaves behind a supermassive black hole (SMBH) seed. Using the Technion’s high performance computing resources, she hopes to estimate the mass of these black holes that are formed from SIDM halos.
When Dr. Gad-Nasr set her academic career path on physics and astronomy, she was mainly intrigued by the unsolved mysteries of dark matter and dark energy. Later, though, she realized that her presence in these fields offered women representation and a voice. She is proud to be able to pursue her passion for working on the big questions in cosmology and help make difficult concepts in physics easier for students to understand, and at the same time to serve as a role model to women in physics.