Diana and her two siblings grew up in Lisbon, Portugal with her mother and father, who were a meteorologist and a physics professor, respectively. She got her bachelors, masters, and doctorate from University of Lisbon. She fell in love with plasma physics early on as an undergrad and has pursued this topic ever since. Her doctoral research included theoretical, numerical and experimental works focused on studying and developing plasma-based particle accelerator techniques.
Journey to Berkeley Lab…
As part of her doctoral program, she had a year-long posting at UCLA, where she grew very fond of the people and weather of the West Coast. After finishing her doctorate, she took a postdoc position at Stony Brook University. During that time she got to do experiments in the Brookhaven National Lab and was impressed by the National Lab research capabilities and environment. Then in May 2019, she joined LBNL as a postdoc in ATAP, contributing mainly to the open source code WarpX with which she can run simulations to model and understand all the complex laser and particles evolution processes that take place inside plasma based accelerators. Here, Diana started to work on two main projects: investigating plasma-based accelerator mechanisms for positron acceleration and providing modeling and support for plasma-stages electron acceleration experiments at the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) center. The goal of that work is to open the pathway for designing future plasma-based colliders of positrons and electrons.
Words Diana Lives By: “Perfect is the enemy of good”
Diana said “perfection works like an asymptote. It can’t be reached and attempting to do so inhibits the good we can accomplish on the way to pursuing a research goal.”
Challenges Diana has faced and some advice for other postdocs:
Explaining her science in a concise, linear way: to help with this, Diana entered into a SLAM-like event at Stony Brook University (and placed second! Video link at the end) and gave a seminar about her work at a local high school. She wants to continue improving so she is pursuing other avenues that will help her speak to a non-specialized audience as well as her passion for community outreach.
Join the BLPA and go to their events to meet other postdocs and learn from them! Berkeley is a lovely place to work in terms of the environment and the resources available to us here at LBNL. We have a Union here that makes sure that we can do our work without any trouble and receive important benefits. We also have a super fun softball league during the summer. Diana also recommends reading “A PhD is Not Enough” by Peter Feibelman because it gives postdocs (and PhD students) some perspective on future career paths.
Despite just joining the lab in May, Diana is already amazed at how much coding, physics and science in general she has been learning. Her dream job is doing physics research in interesting topics and in creative and exciting environments, just like the ones she has been in throughout her career.
Want to watch Diana’s presentation from her SLAM-like event at Stony Brook National Lab?
Follow this link to watch! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmenwZoDWqc