Faculty of Science

Anne Green



Anne Green

Professor of Physics, Faculty of Science

I currently teach our 3rd year ‘Introduction to Cosmology’ option module, which is a great opportunity to tell students about not just my own research, but recent results in the field of cosmology as a whole.


1. Describe your research topic in ten words or less?

Understanding what the Universe is made of.

2. Now describe it in everyday terms?

By observing stars and galaxies, we've deduced that most of the matter in the Universe is invisible. It also has to be exotic-some new particle or object that we've not yet discovered. Particle Physicists have some good ideas about what this dark matter could be and are carrying out experiments to detect it. As a theoretical physicist, I work closely with experimentalists and astronomers. I help them design their experiments/observations, make predictions for what they should see and use their results to probe the properties of dark matter.

3. What inspired you to pursue this research area?

I enjoy doing maths, but wanted to do maths for a reason, and in my teens I became fascinated by cosmology, the scientific study of the evolution and contents of the Universe.

4. What are some of your day-to-day research activities?

Unfortunately I’m at a career stage where I don’t very often get to do research myself on a day-to-day basis. But when I do, I do calculations, either analytical (using pen and paper) or numerical (writing code). Plus reading papers and watching talks, to try and keep up to date with other people’s research. The disadvantage of working at the intersection between various sub-fields (astrophysics, particle physics, theory, observation and experiment) is that there’s a lot to keep up with.

5. What do you enjoy most about your research?

I like the fact that it brings together different branches of physics (in particular astrophysics and particle physics) to answer a big fundamental question.

6. How have you approached any challenges you’ve faced in your research?

The big one is finding time to focus on research. I’m attempting to address this by trying to put aside blocks of time, and also saying No more often (as a woman in a male-dominated field I get a lot of requests to serve on panels, give talks etc.) . However this is very much an ongoing challenge.

7. What questions have emerged as a result of your recent work?

It’s not that recent, but I showed that if the dark matter is made of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (or WIMPs for short) the first objects to form in the Universe would weigh roughly the same as the Earth. And that these objects could have important observational and experimental signatures. This has led to lots of work studying the formation and evolution of the first, smallest dark matter structures to form, not just for WIMPs but for other dark matter candidates as well.

8. What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?

I’d be really happy if something I’ve done contributes to the discovery of the nature of dark matter.

9. How do you link your research with your teaching?

I currently teach our 3rd year ‘Introduction to Cosmology’ option module, which is a great opportunity to tell students about not just my own research, but recent results in the field of cosmology as a whole. This year that included the ‘Hubble tension’, a discrepancy between different types of measurements of the expansion speed of the Universe, which might be a sign of interesting and unexpected new Physics. I also supervise 3rd and 4th year projects related to my research.

10. What one piece of advice would you give your younger, less experienced research self?

I was fortunate to have several postdoctoral fellowships which allowed me to work on (more or less) whatever I wanted. So I’d tell myself to enjoy having the freedom (and time) to explore whatever caught my interest. I’d also advise much younger me to think much more carefully about what field I wanted to work in. Theoretical physics appealed to me because of its reputation for being hard. However I really enjoy being outdoors and travelling, so there might well have been other branches of science that would have suited me better (e.g. geology).




Faculty of Science

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD