Executive Comittee

Zsolt Frei (spokesperson)


Zsolt Frei is Professor of Astrophysics at Eötvös University, Budapest. He received his MSc equivalent diploma in Physics from Eötvös (1989), and his PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University, in 1994. He had a visiting position at Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching, Germany (1995), and a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania (1996-98), and also spent significant time at UT and at Fermilab before returning to a tenured position at Eötvös.


At Eötvös he established the Astrophysics teaching program, published the first Hungarian language book on Cosmology (with co-author András Patkós), and started to work with PhD students so successful, that the first of them, Bence Kocsis won a Harvard University predoctoral fellowship after only two years of work. His research interests include automatic morphological classification of galaxies for large sky surveys, merger tree codes to simulate structure formation of the early universe, LIGO data analysis, and astrophysical studies of gravity-wave counterparts both for LIGO and the proposed LISA.



Zoltán Haiman


Zoltan Haiman, a theoretical cosmologist, is Associate Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University in New York. He has been a leader in  studies of the formation of the first structures in the universe, and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on this subject. Haiman is the recipient of several research grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and from the National Space and Aeronautics Administration (NASA), which, over the past 10 years, total $2.6 million.  In 2010, he was the recepient of the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists by the New York Academy of Sciences.


Haiman has broad research interests in theoretical astrophysics. He has clarified the dominant role of molecular hydrogen in forming the first stars and black holes. He has spearheaded the interpretation of many recent significant Astronomical observations involving the most distant galaxies and quasars in the universe. He has recently been working on novel ways to understand the nature of the acceleration of the universe by the so-called dark energy, using a method called weak gravitational lensing.  He worked with Hungarian students Zoltan Lippai to study the early history of black hole growth and mergers in

the Universe, and with Bence Kocsis to study the electromagnetic signatures of super-massive black hole mergers, which could be detected by future gravity wave experiments. He continues to work on this subject. With Kocsis and Frei, he also proposed a novel probe of finding shocks around the edges of galaxy clusters, an important yet poorly tested part of our modern cosmic structure formation paradigm. These collaborations have so far resulted in three master's diplomas at ELTE.



István Szapudi


István Szapudi is professor of Astrophysics at IfA, Hawaii. He is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), member of Pan-STARRS, and also member of other surveys, such as Deep2, 2dF-SDSS LRG/QSO group, and have strong ties with the Planck experiment. His work and analysis techniques contributed significantly to the first direct detection of the Dark Energy via the Integrated Sachs Wolfe effect, the first detection of baryonic oscillations, and to the measurements of cosmological parameters.


IfA is producing a large fraction of astronomical data today, and in the near future, with the emergence of Pan-STARRS, it will produce an overwhelming fraction of the total of astronomical data in the world. He has an unusually strong background in computer science, statistics, and mathematics, which, blended with the more traditional concepts of theoretical astronomy, are crucial for finding the needed interdisciplinary solutions to the pressing data problems. His broad research goals include: to create novel (statistical) analysis tools which can handle the data avalanche of the 21st century, to apply such tools to data observed at IfA, and to data available publicly, and thereby constrain cosmological theories and the origin of the universe, to develop the cosmological theories of origin, and to solve the greatest mystery of 21st century physics: Dark Matter and Dark Energy.





ei-csabai.jpgIstván Csabai


István Csabai is Professor of Physics at the Department of Physics of Complex Systems, Eötvös University, Budapest. He received his PhD at Eötvös University. He had spent several years at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, working on the design of the science archive of the Sloan Digital Sky

Survey, the world's biggest astronomical survey.

His research focus now is photometric redshift estimation, which method is very

important for studying large scale structure of the Universe. He is also developing huge scientific databases, he is representing Hungary in the International Virtual Observatory. Beyond computational astronomy he is involved in studying complex networks and systems and developing the technology of the future internet. He is an active participant in several national and international basic research and R&D projects.




Bence Kocsis


Bence Kocsis was a PhD student at EIRSA. He is now an Einstein/ITC Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonain Center for Astrophysics. He used to be a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton in 2008-09. He studies astrophysical general relativity, focusing on black holes, sources of gravitational waves, the structure of accretion disks and dense star clusters. He is also interested in observational aspects related to the detection of gravitational waves.


His PhD Thesis completed at EIRSA has been awarded honorable mention by the Gravitational Wave International Committee Thesis Prize 2007. He has also been awarded the Prima Primissima Junior Prize on October 3, 2008. This prize is awarded in 3 categories: Hungarian research, education, and sport to 10 individuals per category under the age 30. The related media coverage can be found here. Bence won an Einstein Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2009, sponsored by NASA. This program awards Fellowships to recent Ph.D.'s in astronomy, physics, and related disciplines. Einstein Fellows hold their appointments at a Host Institution in the U.S., for research that is broadly related to the mission of the NASA Physics of the Cosmos program as addressed by any of the missions of this program. These include high energy astrophysics relevant to the Chandra, Fermi (formerly GLAST), XMM-Newton, INTEGRAL, and IXO (formerly Constellation-X) missions, cosmological investigations relevant to the Planck and JDEM missions, and gravitational astrophysics relevant to the LISA mission. Bence's fellowship is LISA related. 



ei-raffai.jpg  Péter Raffai


Péter Raffai is an assistant professor at Eötvös University, where he received his PhD degree in 2012. His research focuses on gravitational-wave data analysis and code development, specialized in searching for signals with poorly modeled waveform (bursts). He had a postdoctoral position at Columbia University in the City of New York as a member of the Experimental Gravity Group (GECo), and now he is one

of the leaders of the Eötvös Gravity Reserch Group (EGRG) at Eötvös University, and works in close collaboration with the group's PI, Zsolt Frei.




We are currently not advertising postdoc positions.




Associated Faculty



Attila Csótó


Attila Csótó is a research professor at Eötvös University, Budapest. He is a nuclear astrophysicist, working on stellar nuclear reactions and nucleosynthesis. He received his PhD from the University of Debrecen, Hungary. He worked at the Institute of Nuclear Research at Debrecen, was a visiting associate at Caltech, visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University, and research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory.


He has worked on the structure and reactions of nuclei far from stability, and discovered the nuclear quantum amplification phenomenon. He calculated the reaction rates for several solar nuclear reactions, which determine the solar neutrino fluxes. He showed that the synthesis of carbon and oxygen is extremely fine-tuned in the Universe, and gave constraints on the basic forces of Nature. He studied the effects of temporally varying fundamental constants on nucleosynthesis in the Universe. He has written 40 scientific papers. He is a doctor (DSc) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and received the Bolyai Plaquette of the Academy in 2002.



Péter Forgács


Péter Forgács is scientific advisor (with the rank of full professor) at the Particle- and Nuclear-Physics Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He held positions at CERN, the University of Southampton and at the Werner Heisenberg Institute of Physics in Munich. He was head of the theoretical physics group at the University of Tours as a full professor between 2004-2006, before returning to Hungary.


His research focuses on classical solutions and their dynamics in gauge theories and gravity (topological defects, particle-like solutions, black holes and their interactions with other fields) and on quantum field theory. He develops combined numerical and analytical methods in gauge theories coupled to general relativity. He has studied higher dimensional gravity theories and was first to point out that in this framework the natural "constants" (Newton's constant, the fine structure constant) become space-time dependent. He also has important results in developing a dimensional reduction procedure and determined the Higgs potential in a geometrical way. He has important contributions in the study of magnetic monopoles.



András Patkós


András Patkós is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Eötvös University, Budapest, since 1989. He is a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2001). He served as president of the Hungarian (Roland Eötvös) Physical Society (2005-2007). He is member of the organizing committees of the Johns Hopkins Workshops in Theoretical Physics and of the conference series Strong and Electroweak Matter. So far he supervised 6 PhD and over 10 MSc theses.


His main research fields of interest are: collective phenomena in quantum and classical field theories; phase transitions of cosmological significance; renormalization of resumed perturbative series; high energy astrophysical neutrinos. He regularly teaches advanced level lecture series on finite temperature field theory with cosmological applications for students of Eötvös University. He has recent publications in peer reviewed international journals on the finite temperature and finite density equation of state of QCD computed in effective field theory framework; Effect of gauge singlet extra scalar fields on the Higgs-effect in the Standard Model; Real time numerical studies of far from equilibrium symmetry breaking phase transitions in Minkowski and FRW-geometries.



Alexander Szalay


Alexander Szalay is the Alumni Centennial Professor of Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University. He is also Professor in the Department of Computer Science. He is a cosmologist, working on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. After graduating in Hungary he spent postdoctoral periods at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago, before accepting a faculty position at Johns Hopkins. In 1990 he has been elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as a Corresponding Member.


He is the architect for the Science Archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He has been collaborating with Jim Gray of Microsoft to design an efficient system to perform data mining on the SDSS Terabyte sized archive, based on innovative spatial indexing techniques. He is leading a grass-roots standardization effort to bring the next generation Terabyte-sized databases in astronomy to a common basis, so that they will be interoperable the Virtual Observatory. He is Project Director of the NSF-funded National Virtual Observatory. He is involved in the GriPhyN and iVDGL projects, creating testbed applications for the Computational Grid. He has written over 340 papers in various scientific journals, covering areas from theoretical cosmology to observational astronomy, spatial statistics and computer science. In 2003 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he received an Alexander Von Humboldt Prize in Physical Sciences.




Graduate Students

GLpic3.jpg  László Gondán


Laszlo Gondan is a graduate student in the Particle Physics and 

Astronomy doctorate school at Eötvös University. He works as a 

software developer and participates in the development of a special 

software to analize waveforms of excentric binary black hole systems 

and he also developes a search algorithm for the LIGO Collaboration. 

His research focuses on the investigations of the dynamics and 

waveforms of excentric binary systems and also investigates the 

possibility of astrophysical applications of gravitational waves.


He is interested in cosmology, C++ programing, general relativity and 

gravitational wave astrophysics under the supervision of Péter Raffai

and Zsolt Frei. He has side projects such as N-Body simulations and

optimizing site location of network of future grawitational-wave telescopes.



Anett3.jpg   Anett Prónai


Anett Prónai is a graduate student in the Particle Physics and Astronomy doctorate school at Eötvös University, Budapest. She recieved her Msc equvalent degree in 2009 in mathematics from Cambridge University. Her research focuses on cosmological merger tree simulations to predict statistical properties of gravitational wave source populations. Currently working on the modifcation of the GW signal emmited by recoiling supermassive black hole binariesin the pretesence of gas.


Her interest is in C++ programming, general relativity, and gravitational waves.




Undergraduate Students





Former members

ei-colacino.jpgCarlo Nicola Colacino


Carlo Nicola Colacino was a postdoctoral research fellow at EIRSA. He received

his “Laurea” in Theoretical Physics (MSc degree) from the University of Rome

“La Sapienza” in 1996 and his PhD degree in Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics

from the University of Cagliari in 2001, both under the supervision of Massimo

Bianchi. He was then hired as a postdoctoral fellow by the Max-Planck-Institut for Gravitational Physics in Hanover, where he was a member of the GEO600 project under the supervision of Karsten Danzmann and in 2004 he joined as a postdoctoral scholar the University of Birmingham, where he worked on Gravitational-Wave data-analysis in the group led by Alberto Vecchio. In 2006-07 he was awarder the position of lecturer to replace some colleagues who were on sabbatical leave. In October 2007 he moved to Hungary, first to the

Theoretical Department of the Research Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics (RMKI) to work with Péter Forgács (associated EIRSA faculty), and subsequently to Zsolt Frei's group at ELTE.

His main interest lies in Gravitational-Wave physics, in particular he has

worked on the Stochastic Gravitational-Wave Background, both by studying possible sources (extra dimensions, scalar particles) and by participating in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration's (LSC) data-analysis efforts. He has also started a

collaboration with JY Vinet's group at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in on

research and development for the forthcoming LISA and LISA Pathfinder missions. He moved on to a position at INFN Pisa (cn.colacino@gmail.com).




Simona Gallerani


Simon Gallerani was a postdoctoral research fellow at EIRSA. She has received her PhD from Trieste. She was working on interpretations of observations of cosmic epochs closer to the present that have indisputably shown that the cosmic gas is in an ionized state. It is yet unclear when the phase transition from the neutral state to the ionized one started. Thus, the reionization epoch is still undefined.


In the last few years, our knowledge of the reionization process has been

enormously increased mainly owing to the observation of z>6 quasars by the SDSS survey and CMB data. She proposed a semi-analytical criterion in order to constrain the IGM ionization state, starting from the measurement of the transmissivity windows extent. She now works on the interpretation of the measurement of the high-z ultra-violet background by analyzing, statistically, properties of the transmitted flux in z>6 QSOs and GRBs absorption spectra. She has moved on to a position in Roma (gallerani@oa-roma.inaf.it).



   Szabolcs Márka


Szabolcs Márka is Assistant Professor of Physics at Columbia University. He works on experimental astrophysics and gravitational wave physics. He received his MSC equivalent university Diploma in 1993 from Kossuth Lajos University (Hungary), and his PhD in 1999 from Vanderbilt University. He was building the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) from 1999 while at Caltech. He founded the Experimental Gravity Group at Columbia (GECo) in 2004.


His current research is focused on the effort to directly detect gravitational waves of cosmic origin, which will allow us to study cosmic processes and objects unreachable through conventional methods based on electromagnetic observations. His present, major interest is astrophysical trigger based data analysis and essential development/diagnostic projects aimed towards enhancing the astrophysical reach and reliability of LIGO.



ei-szokoly.jpg   Gyula P. Szokoly


Gyula P. Szokoly is a research scientist at Eötvös University, Budapest. He received his MSc equivalent diploma in Physics from Eötvös (1992), and his PhD in Astrophysics from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (1999). He was a

postdoc at the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam (1999-2002) and he was a research scientist the Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Garching.

He is primarily an observer, with many night of observing experience on the

largest telescopes of the world (VLT, Keck, etc.). He is also involved in many

astronomical instrumentation projects (he is an SDSS builder, a GROND builder,

advisor for a 3m-class telescope, head of the LIGO physical environmental

monitoring construction). He concentrates his research efforts of extragalactic

astronomy (AGNs, clusters and GRBs).