The Heroine’s Journey of Irene Di Palma

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Research is a creative work, a unique opportunity to develop strategies and create techniques to discover fundamental physics.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Family, friends, love and travel, that’s my perfect mix.

What is my greatest fear? I am terrified about the dark side of human beings that can perpetrate horrible and deplorable actions.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I don’t think there is one trait that I deplore in myself. There are aspects of my temperament that need to be blunt-ended but overall I feel happy about myself.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? The Northern Irish astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Through meticulous research, she and her colleagues eventually identified the radio signals as coming from a rapidly spinning neutron star, or pulsar, as it became known.

What is my greatest extravagance? My desk and desktop are full of articles, notes, pictures, plots and so on and so forth. To work well I have to be surrounded by the chaos.

On what occasion would I lie? I would lie for loved ones in special occasions.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The uncertainty of the future. In fact, it is very difficult to get a faculty position at young age.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Being part of the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaboration, the happiest moment in my work was the discovery of gravitational waves; ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago. This observation is truly incredible science and marks three milestones for physics: the direct detection of gravitational waves, the first detection of a binary black hole, and the most convincing evidence to date that nature’s black holes are the objects predicted by Einstein’s theory.

If I could, what would I change about myself? Maybe I am a little too stubborn, but I am working on changing it.

What is my greatest achievement in work? I felt honoured to receive the 2016 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Prize that supports and believes in my research. Where would I most like to live? A liveable and enjoyable city. Rome is the city where my heart is. What is my most treasured possession? The medal of the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, recognizing scientists and engineers of the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaboration, contributing to the momentous detection of gravitational waves.

What is my most marked characteristic? My enthusiasm. Believe with energy and passion in whatever I choose.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Rome is an extraordinary and unique city full of history, art and beauty, that astonishes you at every corner. My favorite place in the Eternal City is the Pincio terrace, that sits directly above Piazza del Popolo, at the end of Via del Corso. From there, you can gaze down at the historic center and across towards the Vatican. The layers and domes of Rome are what get me every time.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Over the last 10 years I lived in different cities: New York, Hannover and Rome. To discover a new place and its roots and habits I experiment and taste street food. In Rome while walking in the city center I love to go to Il Fornaio, near Campo dei Fiori, to savour Italian delicatessen like white pizza with mortadella, and freshly baked bread and cakes. In Hannover my favourite place is Tomo Sushi, a cozy restaurant that serves excellent food. In New York I love the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar to enjoy such a beautiful city from a different prospective.

What books influenced my life and how? During my education I performed Classical Studies, in particular Ancient Greek and Classical Latin languages and literature. These studies’ve educated me to the research of the beauty in every single aspect of life. Uno nessuno e centomila (One, no one and hundred thousand) by Luigi Pirandello. It is a surrealistic description of the consequences of the hero’s discovery that his wife (and others) see him with quite different eyes than he does himself. In fact, a human being is not what he thinks he is, but instead is “one, no one and a hundred thousand,” according to his appearance to this person or that, which is always different from the image of himself in his own mind.

Who are my favorite writers? South African novelist: Wilbur Addison Smith. Italian Writer: Luigi Pirandello

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? A great selection of Queen, Tina Turner and Santana songs

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? I am a fan of Actress Charlize Theron and Actress Julia Roberts. They can interpret a variety of powerful roles without been predictable.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My parents. I wouldn’t be me without them. I also admire the work and passion of everyday heroes like doctors, firemen and all human beings, that during emergencies help people.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? Mrs. Doubtfire. It shows in a comedy-drama the importance of love and family, that reminds you not only the roots but also gives you wings to fly and become what you want.

What role plays art in my life and work? Art in all its aspects is part of my soul. The research of Beauty is the expression of emotions, intuitions and desires filtered by the personal view that makes it the extension of the personality. Everything can be art, it is communication of intimate concepts that cannot be faithfully portrayed by words alone.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My family supports me in all my adventures and projects. My partner in crime is my best friend, Lisa, she is an architect but more than that she is a volcano of ideas, suggestions and prospects. We share the same point of view, we like to enjoy family and friends, discover always new places around the world through great food and good company.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? Some of my former Mentors: Professor Fulvio Ricci and Professor Maria Alessandra Papa.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2017? Physics Stephen Hawking

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? My present, major interest is astrophysical data analysis, with a specific focus on multimessenger astroparticle physics which will allow us to study cosmic processes and violent relativistic events such as the collisions of black holes or neutron stars, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts, and objects unreachable through conventional methods.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? On international reviews like Physical ReviewD, JCAP or journals which are connected with science and physics. Follow my LinkedIn page: 17bb1039/.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? People with enthusiasm and passion can change the world and make things happen. I have to fight and believe in my ideas and projects. “Tene rem, verba sequentur. „

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Lisa Langella, Özlem Kaçar and Lalla R. Grimes.

How can you contact me? I prefer e-mail:


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