I am a cosmologist, interested in both observations and interpretation of galaxy clustering. While originally trained in classical experimental astronomy, I became more and more interested in the modelling and interpretation of clustering in galaxy surveys using analytical and numerical techniques, as a key test of the cosmological model. My first major contribution to this field came from surveys of X-ray galaxy clusters, in particular through the REFLEX project, which I co-lead during the 1990's.
To expand our ability in analysing galaxy surveys, in 2012 I was awarded by the European Research Council a 5-year ERC Advanced Grant. Through this, I built an international research team to understand the Universe through the analysis of galaxy maps, developing the Darklight project. In this framework, I coordinated the VIMOS Extragalactic Redshift Survey (VIPERS), the largest survey ever performed with the ESO Very Large Telescope. Collecting close to 100,000 redshifts of galaxies at 0.5<z<1.2 with high sampling density, VIPERS pushed the detailed mapping of the galaxy distribution to the unprecedented epoch when the Universe was only half its current age. Including comprehensive multi-band ancillary photometry from the CFHTLS survey, VIPERS represents nowadays an ideal z~1 counterpart of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, allowing to trace galaxy and structure evolution over time.
Darklight developed the statistical techniques required to analyse the VIPERS data and extract key cosmological parameters as the growth rate of cosmic structure. The latter, can be derived by measuring the so-called Redshift-Space Distortions (RSD) in the observed clustering of galaxies. My work contributed to promote this well-known effect to becoming a prime technique for understanding the origin of cosmic acceleration. Measuring RSD to exquisite precision (together with Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations - BAO), has been a primary motivation for building Euclid, the next cosmology mission of ESA, scheduled for launch by mid-2023.
Euclid will deliver an unprecedented amount of information about our Universe. As founder and Science Coordinator of the Euclid Consortium, I am deeply involved in the preparation of the scientific analyses of what will be an avalanche of new data. In this respect, I recently enlarged my interests to the application of Machine Learning techniques to cosmological inference, starting a joint collaboration with experts of the Computer Science Department of UniMI.
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