Cora Dvorkin

Cora Dvorkin

Associate Professor of Physics
Cora Dvorkin

Prof. Dvorkin is a theoretical cosmologist. Her areas of research are: the nature of dark matter, neutrinos and other light relics, and the physics of the early universe. She uses observables such as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the large-scale structure of the universe, 21-cm radiation, and strong gravitational lensing to shed light on these questions.

Dvorkin has made significant theoretical contributions to the study of dark matter, focusing on a broad range of observational probes. She has led research on scenarios where dark matter couples to other particles as well as to itself, and predicted observable effects on cosmological data sets. 

She has pushed the frontiers of sub-GeV dark matter using CMB and large-scale structure data. The strong constraints coming from her analysis are particularly interesting given that sub-GeV dark matter masses are complementary to those probed by current direct detection experiments. She has been involved in leading the science goals for the DOE-funded next-generation CMB experiment ("CMB-S4"), for which these scenarios are being proposed as the main driver of the dark matter science case.

She has developed with her research group a new formalism aimed at probing small-scale structure using gravitational lenses, by means of statistical measurements of dark matter substructure. She has proposed this as a key observable that can yield important clues about the matter distribution within the a galaxy. She has also pioneered the use of machine learning techniques to find dark matter subhalos in lensing systems.

In the Early Universe arena, she has pioneered a model-independent method for probing the shape of the inflationary potential, known as "Generalized Slow Roll". She has also constructed new theoretical templates for higher-order correlation functions of the initial curvature perturbations that could shed light on the physical properties of particles with non-zero spin during inflation as well as possible phase transitions during the early universe. She developed statistical tools to look for these correlation functions in the CMB and the LSS data measured by current and future surveys. 

In 2014-2015, she joined the joint analysis between BICEP2, the Keck array, and Planck collaboration. She worked on the likelihood analysis of a multi-component model that included Galactic foregrounds and a possible contribution from inflationary gravity waves. The code that she wrote was made publicly, and it has been extensively used by the community. No statistically significant evidence for primordial gravitational waves and a strong evidence for galactic dust were reported in this work. 

Prof. Dvorkin is the Harvard Representative at the newly NSF-funded Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Fundamental Interactions (IAIFI)’s Board. This is a joint effort together with colleagues at Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Northeastern. The goal is to solve problems in fundamental physics and astrophysics using AI, while at the same time improving the AI foundations. 

She was the co-leader of the Inflation analysis group for the proposed CMB-S4 experiment. Prior to this, she was the leader of the Dark Matter analysis group.

Dvorkin has been awarded the 2019 DOE Early Career award and has been named the "2018 Scientist of the year" by the Harvard Foundation for "Salient Contributions to Physics, Cosmology and STEM Education". She has also been awarded a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship for 2018-2019 and a Shutzer Professorship at the Radcliffe Institute for the period 2015-2019. In 2018 she was awarded a Star Family Challenge prize for Promising Scientific Research. In 2012, she was given the "Martin and Beate Block Award", awarded to the best young physicist by the Aspen Center for Physics. 
She has given more than 100 invited talks at conferences and workshop around the world.

Professor Dvorkin, born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, received her Diploma in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires with honors. She earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago in 2011, where she won the "Sydney Bloomenthal Fellowship for "outstanding performance in research". She has conducted postdoctoral research at the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (from 2011 to 2014) and at the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University (from 2014 to 2015), where she was both a Hubble Fellow (awarded by NASA) and an ITC fellow.

Faculty Assistant: Erica Mantone

Contact Information

Lyman Lab 334
17 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: (617) 384-9487