Dr Salvatore Butera

Published: 23 January 2020

Quantum vacuum, analogue models of gravity

Dr Salvatore Butera

School of Physics & Astronomy

Type of fellowship          Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship

Area of research            Quantum vacuum, analogue models of gravity

Why did you choose to pursue a fellowship in your research career?

I’ve studied and worked all over Europe – I took my undergraduate and Masters degrees in Palermo, where I’m from, then had a short studentship in Marseille before studying for my PhD in Edinburgh. Before joining Glasgow I had a fellowship in Trento, Italy working on the problem of the backreaction from a quantum field, and focusing on the case of optomechanical systems. I like having the freedom to study, develop my own ideas and pursue my research projects. A fellowship is the most natural means for that. It will give me the opportunity to grow as an independent researcher and build a distinctive research profile, in the perspective of securing a future academic career.

Why work at the University of Glasgow?

I feel Glasgow is the perfect institution to carry out my research, because of the long tradition of excellent research in the subjects involved in my research project – it was well known to me by reputation, both for staff and resources. This will place me in a position where I can closely collaborate with world leading scientists, with the perspective of becoming a more versatile, creative and interdisciplinary researcher. On top of that, my partner is Scottish so it works from that side of my life too.

How would you describe your research in 20 words or less?

I study the effect of the microscopic quantum nature of spacetime on the dynamics of the Universe.

What is your research highlight?

In terms of a specific work, I am most proud of my very first research work in Physics that I carried out for my Master thesis. This has been highly recognised by the community and published in a high impact journal, Physical Review Letters, which is very uncommon at such early stage of the scientific career. In a broader sense, I have been able to develop a world-wide network of highly distinguished collaborators during my academic career. Working in close contact with them has represented an invaluable opportunity for learning and growing both from a scientific and personal perspectives.

What do you look for in a collaboration?

Collaboration is vital for research, because pulling together different experiences, knowledge and skills is fundamental in order to find the best way to approach a complex problem. When I collaborate with colleagues, I am always willing to learn new concepts and techniques in order to widen my background knowledge.

How do you see your research impacting society?

My research addresses very fundamental questions concerning the Universe we live in and aims to enrich our knowledge of nature. In a broader sense, it has potential technological applications in the rapidly growing fields of quantum opto-mechanics, micro- and nano-mechanics, where boundary conditions imposed on a quantum field represent the simplest yet non trivial microscopic degree of freedom of spacetime.

What next?

I plan to secure a permanent academic position, to make research and the study of the world we live in not just a parenthesis, but the long-term mission of my life. I want to build-up my research group, and purse my research projects and develop novel ideas together with enthusiastic PhD students and postdoc collaborators. This fellowship is an excellent stepping stone towards these longer-term goals.

First published: 23 January 2020