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Visiting Scientists Elaine Fortes

Elaine Fortes, Adjunct Professor at the Universidade Federal do Pampa in Brazil, is joining the theory group at Queen’s University from January 6-17. She is here through the McDonald Insitute Visiting Scientist competition. She is also currently a Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) in São Paulo. She will give two seminars during her stay. One on January 7th and another on January 15th.

Elaine completed her graduate studies at the University of São Paulo, studying Z-Prime physics at the Institute of Theoretical Physics.

She did her Ph.D. in Brazil at the Institute of Theoretical Physics under the supervision of Professor V. Pleitez. During her Ph.D., she stayed abroad for one year at Oklahoma State University, where she worked with Professor K. S. Babu. He had introduced Elaine to the topics of Flavor Physics and Dark Matter. After her Ph.D., she started her Postdoc at The Institute of Theoretical Physics in Sao Paulo and then she left her country again and started a postdoc at the University of Maryland under the supervision of Professor Zakaria Chako. There she worked with asymmetric dark matter. During her postdoc, she was also a visiting scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under the supervision of Floyd W. Stecker.

Elaine’s current research is looking at x-ray and gamma-ray fluctuations in globular clusters for signals of dark matter. She is developing ways that gamma-rays and x-rays can be included in multi-messenger research along with gravitational waves, high-energy neutrinos and electromagnetic radiation.

Something that Elaine and her research team are currently looking at is ultra-compact dwarf galaxies for possible signatures of dark matter. Currently under study are 47 Tucanae, Omega Centauri, and NGC6266, which are of similar sizes and present the team with some interesting gamma-ray variances.

Elaine Fortes points at writing on a whiteboard while Alan Goodman watches

Elaine Fortes and Alan Goodman discuss their research.

Elaine has been enjoying her stay in Canada, and working with  Aaron Vincent, Joe Bramante, Larry Widrow, Mark Richardson, and the theory physics students here; Amit Bhoonah, Sarah Schön, Alan Goodman, and others. Elaine explains that the group at Queen’s is unique in the diversity of research interests such as dwarf galaxies, theoretical physics, and astroparticle physics, which offers some interesting perspectives and background to her work.

Since she was a child, Elaine was always amazed by the night sky and was curious about astronomy, but did not follow those dreams until much later. As a young woman, Elaine worked as an administrator for a post office. She would read science news and hear about new physics discoveries and thought “that’s where I need to be”. At a certain point, she realized that she had to make that decision to change her life and follow her dreams. “Follow your dreams, do you best and don’t be afraid of change”.

We are honoured to have Elaine join us for this time and look forward to following her work in future.