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30 under 30: An Astronomer Tracing the Universe's History

Meet Eduard Rusu, 27, one of the up-and-coming physicists attending this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Romanian astronomer Eduard Rusu



Courtesy Eduard Rusu

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings a wealth of scientific minds to the shores of Germany’s Lake Constance. Every summer at Lindau, dozens of Nobel Prize winners exchange ideas with hundreds of young researchers from around the world. Whereas the Nobelists are the marquee names, the younger contingent is an accomplished group in its own right. In advance of this year’s meeting, which focuses on physics, we are profiling several promising attendees under the age of 30. The profile below is the seventh in a series of 30.

Name: Eduard Rusu
Age: 27
Born: Dej, Romania
Nationality: Romanian

Current position: Ph.D. student, The University of Tokyo, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Education: Bachelor’s degree in physics from Osaka University, master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Tokyo

What is your field of research?
My focus is the observational study of gravitationally lensed quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with adaptive optics.

What drew you to physics, and to that research area in particular?
Astronomy was my passion from an early age. As a discipline that studies the universe at large, yet in a more visual way than theoretical physics, I think it holds a certain fascination for many people. Astronomy is, after all, the oldest of the sciences. Although perhaps my area of research may appear cryptic, the underlying concept is surprisingly easy to grasp, and visually impactful; I find that an image taken though the telescope or a simulation video impresses people just as much as it first impressed me. Not only because it looks beautiful, but because when I explain what it means, the reaction is usually: “Oh, so that’s what it is!”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I do see myself as an astronomer. There is so much promise in my particular field, particularly with the advent of new astronomical facilities and surveys. I also look forward to expanding my contacts in the world of professional research. I would like to know that my personal research activity ties up with the work of other researcher in the field, and that, as such, I am member of a team that transcends regional boundaries. This is what has motivated me since becoming a foreign student.

Who are your scientific heroes?
Albert Einstein foremost, for his genius. Leonardo da Vinci, not only an artist, but also a scientific and technical visionary. The innumerable others in whose scientific work or life experience I find inspiration.

If you had unlimited resources, what kind of research would you conduct?
As opposed to physics, which is based on experiment, astronomy is based on observation. As such, the most frustrating aspect of my research is that it depends on weather. While I would be faithful to my current research topic, my dream would be to have unlimited observation time, or larger telescopes in space.

What activities outside of physics do you most enjoy?
I love classical music, although I do not play an instrument. I enjoy watching movies, and the history of cinema. Music and film are the most accessible of the performing arts, and I always find conversations on these topics to be engaging and passionate.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
As the Lindau Nobel Meetings in Physics take place about once in four years, and only about 500 young researchers are allowed a one-time participation, one could say that the competition is similar that of the Olympic Games. While the comparison ends here, I see a tremendous opportunity in coming to Lindau, not only to meet and interact with the Nobelists, but to the other young researchers in attendance. To share ideas with fellow researchers, whom otherwise I would not have the opportunity to meet, is a strong incentive for me to attend.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet or learn from at Lindau?
John Mather, George Smoot and Brian Schmidt are the three cosmologists participating in this year’s Lindau Nobel Meeting. The importance of their discovery of the anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation and the accelerated expansion of the universe, respectively, cannot be overstated in the current cosmological paradigm. In particular, I have a certain privileged perspective, as I am one of the co-authors of a paper that has confirmed the accelerated expansion of the universe by different means. As such, while there is certainly a “wow!” factor to meeting any Nobelist, I am particularly excited in meeting Brian Schmidt, the winner of last year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. It is thrilling to have the opportunity to meet a Nobelist in my particular field.

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6. Laurence Perreault Levasseur
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
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8. Marina Radulaski

 

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