Laura Herold receives Kippenhahn Prize 2023

July 19, 2023

The award panel unanimously decided to bestow the 2023 Rudolf Kippenhahn Award on Dr. Laura Herold for her groundbreaking paper titled “New Constraint on Early Dark Energy from Planck and BOSS data using the Profile Likelihood”. Her contributions have already been very impactful in the field.

Early Dark Energy is one of the proposed solutions to the hotly debated problem in cosmology called the “Hubble tension”, i.e. a discrepancy between measurements of the current expansion rate of the universe obtained through different methods. However, it was not clear whether the cosmic microwave background and the large-scale structure data favoured “early dark energy”, as different authors reported very different results.

Collaborating with Dr. Elisa Ferreira during her postdoctoral research at MPA, Laura embarked on an arduous journey to untangle the intricate nature of early dark energy and its potential resolution of the Hubble tension. Laura Herold showed that the difference was caused by a feature of the Markov Chain Monte Carlo technique called the "prior volume effect".

When a prior-independent method, such as the profile likelihood, is used, the data show a preference for early dark energy. Her work convinced the cosmology community of the importance of the prior volume effect in the Monte Carlo calculations and influenced many other studies. This is a remarkable achievement by a PhD student in a hotly debated area at the frontier of cosmological research.


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