• Vera Gluscevic

    Gabilan Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy

  • I am a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southern California. My research focuses on cosmological probes of fundamental physics and aims to unravel some of the biggest mysteries of modern physics: the physical nature of dark matter and dark energy. As a postdoc, I was an Eric Schmidt Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and I got my PhD in astrophysics at Caltech. I began as an undergrad in astrophysics at the University of Belgrade, Serbia.

  • Research

    As a cosmologist, I study the entire Universe as a physical system. In particular, I combine the tools of theoretical astrophysics, particle physics, and astronomical data analysis in order to probe dark matter, dark energy, and various processes that shaped the Universe before the time of the first stars. My research often involves coming up with new ways of using observations spanning the entire cosmic history---from the cosmic microwave background radiation to populations of dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way---in order to test the fundamental fabric of nature. Below are some research highlights; a number of them are done by students under my supervision.

     

    I'm a member of three science collaborations focused on precision measurements of the CMB: Simons Observatory, CMB-S4 and ACTPol. I also collaborate with the LSST Dark Matter group and have co-led the Likelihood and Theory analysis group for the Simons Observatory. I have previously served on the Science Council for CMB-S4 and have led the Dark Matter working group for the collaboration.

    student project: Ethan Nadler (Stanford)

    We introduce and apply a new method to constrain dark matter interactions with baryonic particles in the early universe, using a population of satellite galaxies around the Milky Way. We limit dark matter interactions to be 1000 times weaker than previous studies allowed. This work was highlighted in AAS Nova.

    student project: Zack Li (Princeton)

    We forecast sensitivity of the next-generation cosmic microwave background observations to dark matter physics, and show how to disentangle it from other physical effects. These forecasts fed into the Simons Observatory and CMB-S4 calculations of sensitivity to dark matter.

    Here's the first cosmological limit on interactions of sub-proton-mass dark matter particles with baryons. The result was obtained from measurements of the cosmic microwave background anisotropy from the Planck satellite.

    student project: Sam Witte (UCLA)

    Dark matter direct detection experiments are currently collecting data, in hopes of discovering signal from dark matter particles. In this work, we discuss how Earth's motion around the Sun and the resulting annual modulation of a putative dark-matter signal may be used to distinguish amongst candidate theories that could describe these elusive particles. Check out our dmdd python package.

    A proposal for a cool new way to trace tiny magnetic fields in the intergalactic medium during Dark Ages, using future tomographic measurements of the cosmological 21-cm signal from atomic hydrogen. With a 21-cm experiment consisting of 1 square km of dipole antennas, B fields as small as 10^-21 Gauss and coherent over megaparces scales could be within reach.

    student project: Karime Maamari (USC)

    We compute new bounds on the rate of dark matter-proton scattering at a time when the Universe was ~2 months old. The results are entirely based on linear cosmological perturbation theory and constrain dark matter interaction physics for a broad range of dark matter models. They improve upon previous astrophysical bounds on the scattering cross section by 5 orders of magnitude.

  • Meet the Group

    Check out USC Astrophysics and Cosmology and CosmoLab hack space!

    Together with students and postdoc at USC, I have started CosmoLab, now running as a weekly meeting for all USC grads, undergrads, postdocs, and researchers interested in astrophysics research. Get in touch if you'd like to join!

     

     

    I've had the pleasure to work with many very talented students and postdocs at USC and beyond.

     

    Current:

     

    • Rui An (postdoc): Rui works on constraining the mass and interactions of millicharged dark matter and other cosmological probes of new physics.
    • Ethan Nadler (Carnegie-USC postdoc): Ethan works on state-of-the art zoom-in simulations in non-cold dark matter cosmologies, introducing inference to near-field cosmology to robustly search for signatures of new physics in local observables.
    • George (Trey) Driskell (USC grad student): Trey is investigating the global 21-cm signal in context of interacting dark matter models that can change the thermal history of the universe.
    • Aryan Rahimieh (USC grad student): Aryan is working on a novel way to detect interactions of axion-like particles with electrons, using 21-cm line intensity mapping. 
    • Wendy Crumrine (grad student): Wendy is investigating dark matter interactions in cosmological context.
    • Adam He (USC grad student): Adam is using the effective theory of structure formation to enable calculation of non-linear evolution of cosmological perturbations in non-cold dark matter cosmologies.
    • Resherle Verna (post-bacc student and former USC masters student, class of 2020; now Data Science Specialist at Southern California Edison): Resherle works on visualizations of zoom-in simulations of the Milky Way in non-cold dark matter cosmologies, co-advised by Ethan Nadler.
     
    Former:
    • Karime Maamari (USC undergrad, class of 2020; now Research Assistant at Argonne): Karime derived the most stringent astrophysical bounds to-date on dark matter-baryon scattering, using Milky Way satellite abundance measurements from DES.
    • Dimple Sarnaaik (USC undergrad, class of 2021): Dimple had worked on performing analytic estimates for the bound on dark matter-electron scattering from CMB anisotropy measurements.
    • David Nguyen (USC undergrad, class of 2021):  David used Planck data to put some of the strongest observational bounds on dark matter-electron interactions, in collaboration with Dimple Sarnaaik.
    • Isabella Johansson (USC master student): Isabella focused on forecasting sensitivity of future CMB experiments to new physics.
    • Prayaas Aggarwal (B.S. Physics/Computer Science, USC Class of 2020; now Software/Systems Engineer at Qualcomm): Prayaas  developed this website and the CMB visualization tool for CosmoLab.
    • Brenda Zhou (USC undergrad, class of 2021): Brenda investigated early dark energy with Planck data.
    • Aizhan Akhmedzanova (Princeton undergrad, class of 2020; now masters student at Perimenter Institute, on to grad school at Harvard): Aizhan has worked on incorporating the effective theory of structure formation into the Boltzmann code CLASS.
    • Katelyn Neese (Princeton undergrad, class of 2017; now Metrology Engineer at Newport News Shipbuilding): Katelyn has looked at how annual modulation signal in dark matter direct detection experiments can be used to distinguish dark matter models.

  • Want to join our team?

    If you are interested in collaboration, PhD, or postdoc opportunities, email me at vera.gluscevic@usc.edu. I particularly encourage applications from postdocs and students committed to advocacy for diversity and inclusion in physics.

  • Teaching

     Courses taught:

    • Cosmology ASTR 424 (spring 2020): upper-division undergraduate course on cosmology.

    • CosmoLab Hacks (2019-Present): weekly data analysis tutorials for USC grads/undergrads.

    • ASTR 100 (spring 2020, fall 2021): general-education course, introduction to the Universe.

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