Julio Parra-Martinez joins IHES as a Permanent Professor in Physics - IHES
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Julio Parra-Martinez joins IHES as a Permanent Professor in Physics

Julio Parra-Martinez joined IHES as a Permanent Professor in Physics on May 7th, 2024.

After completing his undergraduate studies in physics with highest honors at the University of Valencia, Spain, and spending a year abroad at Imperial College in London, Julio pursued Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge. He completed his PhD in 2020 under the supervision of Zvi Bern at the University of California, Los Angeles. Following three years as a Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Fellow at the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics at Caltech, Julio became an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, in 2023.

His research interests lie in quantum and effective field theory. Continuing work initiated during his PhD, Julio is using scattering amplitudes to understand the behavior of black holes – objects not intuitively thought to relate to the quantum world. However, under certain conditions, the separation of scales allows one to think of black holes as point particles, enabling the application of powerful methods from particle physics. By adapting these techniques to the gravitational setting, Julio is shedding new light on our understanding of the two-body problem in general relativity, an interest he shares with Thibault Damour, Professor Emeritus in Physics at IHES, who introduced the “Effective One Body Method” to calculate the orbital motion and gravitational radiation of coalescing black hole binary systems.

In 2018, I urged experts in quantum scattering amplitudes to apply their techniques to the gravitational interaction, and radiation, of binary black holes. To my great satisfaction, this has led to many impressive new results, and Julio has been one of the leading contributors to this new field of research. I am thrilled he joined IHES,” comments Thibault Damour.

Julio says his scientific inspiration is mostly triggered through interaction. To him, meeting and working with people is an essential part of research. With its large visitor program, welcoming around 200 scientists a year, Julio considers IHES to be the perfect place to carry out his work. “If I am at the Institute, it is to interact with others. My door is always open, and I am particularly fond of the daily social events at IHES, such as lunch and tea time. I learn something new from my colleagues and the institute’s visitors every day.”

At the Institute, Julio experiences the right balance between the excitement he gets when exchanging new ideas with his peers and the calmness he needs to step back and understand things more deeply. “At IHES, I feel like I can be a postdoc forever. I have total freedom of research and no administrative duties whatsoever.” In the future, he hopes to contribute to the development of physics at the Institute, notably by attracting more PhD students and postdocs.

Emmanuel Ullmo, Director of IHES, says: “We are delighted to have Julio at IHES. At age 31, he is the future of physics at the Institute, and we are looking forward to seeing the innovative contributions he will make to our understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe”.