My name is Ilaria Caiazzo and I am an astrophysicist. I was born in Italy, in Piedmont, the region of wine and truffle, but I grew up by the sea, in a small town near Genoa.
I did my undergraduate in physics in Genoa, and I got a master, also in physics, at the Università degli Studi in Milan. Afterwards, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Prof. Jeremy Heyl. I got my doctorate in 2020. I now work at Caltech, in Pasadena, where I am a Burke Prize Fellow.
I have worked in various fields of astrophysics, from studying black holes and neutron stars in the X-rays, to finding interesting white dwarfs in the optical, to hunting for ancient brown dwarfs in the infrared. If you are interested, please take a look at my research page. My research have been published in more than 30 papers (see my list of publications here) and I have traveled the world to present it to many conferences and seminars (see selected talks here).
I am the project scientist for a new mission that has been funded by the Canadian Space Agency for a concept study in 2018. The concept is called Colibrì, and it's a high spectral and timing resolution X-ray telescope, designed to unveil the mysteries of neutron stars and black holes. Thanks to the pairing of transition edge sensors (TES) as detectors and collector optics, Colibrì will achieve unprecedented energy and timing resolution, together with high throughput.
If you want to learn more, please check out our white papers, as well as our website.
I think that being a scientist means more than doing great science. We have the privilege of pursuing our passion, and we have to make sure that future generations will enjoy the same privilege. We have to make sure that our governments understand how important and profitable it is to invest in astronomy. For this reason, it is our duty to continuously advocate for investment in science and in education. While I was in Canada, I was part of the Canadian Space Exploration Workshop aimed at setting goals for the next decade in the space exploration community. Following that experience, I teamed with officials at the Canadian Space Agency and contacted the different stakeholders in academia and in the space industry. We drafted a framework for the funding and selection of scientific missions in space for Canada to build a sustained, balanced and competitive space program. You can read our white paper here.
I also think that teaching is a fundamental part of our job, and I love teaching. Other than being teaching assistant for several courses, I had the opportunity of being the lecturer of an upper-level undergraduate and graduate course in high-energy astrophysics at UBC in the fall of 2018 (ASTR406). A little earlier the same year, I organized the Simulating Stars Summer School at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. The school (http://www.stellar-astrophysics.org) saw a big participation: there were nearly 100 participants from the national observatories throughout China and from the various universities near Beijing.
Since my period in Milan, I have produced several movies, including the internationally acclaimed "La Diva", selected and awarded at numerous festivals, including the San Antonio Film Festival in Texas, the LA Indie Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Salento International Film Festival in Italy, the Festival de la Luz Bogota in Colombia, the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in Wales and others (see trailer here). I recently teamed with Carlo Ballauri and Giovanni Gualdoni to develop the concept for the TV series "The Recycling Man". In 2019, I produced a 12-minute proof of concept for "The Recycling Man" directed by Carlo, which is now being screened at several film festivals. To know more, please check out The Recycling Man Facebook page, with all the latest news, and my production company's website.