Each year the AIP funds the national Women in Physics tour by an eminent physicist. This year’s AIP Women in Physics lecturer will be Catalina Curceanu, Head Researcher of Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics [INFN].
After discovering at school in Romania the power of maths and physics to explain “the mysteries of the universe”, Catalina went on to study nuclear physics and elementary particle physics at Bucharest, and then to a doctorate in spectroscopic meson physics at CERN.
Her current research into the Pauli exclusion principle, which explains why matter does not collapse, is supported by the John Templeton Foundation’s ‘Science and the Big Question’ program, which focusses on the biggest scientific questions. Her group is also trying to understand why protons have the mass they have.
Not one to shy from difficult questions herself, Catalina encourages physicists to be courageous, and to propose theories without fear of failure. “Physics is 90% trial and failure,” she says. “It is much worse not to try, than to try and to fail.”
Catalina Curceanu is the 2016 Women in Physics Lecturer and will present lectures in Australia in August.