ABOUT IA
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Mercedes MartŪn-Benito
Researcher

Email
mmartinb@fc.ul.pt

Biographic notes
I conducted my PhD thesis between 2006 and 2010, in the Institute for the Structure of Matter (IEM-CSIC) in Madrid, under the supervision of G. A. Mena Marugán and L. J. Garay, in the leading group working on loop quantum gravity (LQG) and loop quantum cosmology (LQC) in Spain. My thesis was the first PhD thesis on LQC carried out in Spain, and it paved the road for a new generation of scientists working in LQC at IEM.
After my PhD graduation at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, I have worked as postdoctoral researcher in three prestigious international institutions. From November 2010 till April 2012, I was postdoctoral fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, supervised by B. Dittrich, in one of the leading groups working on spinfoam models for quantum gravity. Then I moved to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), where I had a postdoctoral contract (May 2012 - December 2013).
In 2013 I was awarded a VENI grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, to conduct my research at Radboud University Nijmegen. I worked there from January 2014 to January 2017, at the only group in The Netherlands focused on non-perturbative quantum gravity, with main experts on causal dynamical triangulations (Prof. R. Loll) and asymptotic safety in quantum gravity (F. Saueressig). In January 2017, I joint the Faculdade de CiÍncias of the Universidade de Lisboa, founded by a Starting Grant FCT Investigator Programme.

Summary of research interests
Two of the main challenges of modern physics are to provide a fundamental quantum theory underlying the gravitational interaction and a consistent explanation for the dynamics of the primordial Universe. Both challenges go hand in hand, inasmuch as we expect the physics of the very early Universe to belong to the realm of quantum gravity. My research focuses on the analysis of the quantum nature of gravity at the early Universe, and its implications in cosmology.
In particular, I am a recognised expert in Loop Quantum Cosmology (LQC), field that adapts the techniques of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) to cosmological scenarios. I am pioneer in introducing inhomogeneities in the framework of LQC. When full quantum analyses of LQC were still focused on homogeneous spacetimes, I introduced and developed the so-called Hybrid LQC, a new strategy for the quantization of inhomogeneous cosmologies within LQC. It combines loop quantum effects with standard quantum field theory (QFT). Hybrid LQC provides a formalism that extends the analysis of primordial fluctuations beyond the onset of inflation, allowing for the comparison of theoretical predictions with cosmological observations extracted from the cosmic microwave background. This has opened a new era in the application of LQG to Cosmology, leading to a fruitful activity of the LQC community in this front. Since my doctorate, LQC has been my main line of research. Currently I am focusing on extracting physical predictions from LQC affecting cosmological observables, and in extending the hybrid quantization to other systems, such as cosmologies with fermion perturbations.

Publications
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Instituto de Astrof√≠sica e Ci√™ncias do Espa√ßo Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Funda√ß√£o para a Ci√™ncia e a Tecnologia