Marcella Brusa

"Choose what you like more, and pursue it with passion and dedication!"

June 28, 2021

My name is Marcella Brusa. Originally from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, I studied and got my PhD title at Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, where now I am an Associate Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy “Augusto Righi”. In between, I worked for more than 8 years at the Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching bei München (first with a Research Fellowship and then with a Fixed term research contract).

At the end of the high school I was fascinated by both Archeology (!) and Astronomy and I chose the second because I thought it would give more opportunities on the research career on the scientific side - indeed, I liked Physics a lot. Then everything came almost naturally by itself. Basically, I ended up working as an Astrophysicist simply doing always what I liked and interested me more, and doing it with passion and dedication.

My main field of interest is “supermassive black holes” and everything that revolves around these fascinating objects: the methods to discover them as Active Galactic Nuclei (X-ray and multi-wavelength surveys), their role in the evolution of galaxy in the Universe (galaxy-AGN coevolution, outflows and AGN feedback), their contribution to the X-ray background (in particular the role of obscured AGN), and the study of the properties of the innermost region about the black holes (X-ray spectroscopy, Ultra fast outflows and Iron line profiles).

All of these are key to eROSITA, which will discover millions of AGN over the entire sky and derive the demographics and physical properties of the most luminous AGN up to the highest redshifts. I am a member of of the AGN Working group in eROSITA-DE since 2008 (I have been also a co-chair of the WG in the years 2011-2014) and I am now contributing to the the analysis and validation of PV phase data (e.g. catalogs creation, multi-wavelength association, scientific exploitation). As an output of the early data release, I am leading a paper presenting an interesting source extracted from the 27000+ detected in the eFEDS field, thought to be caught in the “feedback” phase, the most important one in the life of a galaxy hosting an accreting supermassive black hole (Brusa et al. 2021, submitted, “The eROSITA Final Equatorial-Depth Survey (eFEDS): The first archetypal Quasar in the feedback phase discovered by eROSITA”).

Future Projects
Now I am divided within Research (working on data from several state-of-the art telescopes on ground and in space, coordinating research projects, mentoring PhD students and post-docs) and teaching - which is starting keeping most of my time with 4 different courses at Bachelor, Master and post-master level - and I found myself to enjoy a lot these aspects of mentoring young students. As per research, I am coordinating a huge effort of a large international community on the study of “Supermassive Black Hole Winds in X-rays” based on a large program (totalling ~20 days of observing time) of observations with the X-ray telescope XMM-Newton. The exploitation of these data will take most of my time (in addition to the preparation and exploitation of ROSITA data) in the next few months/years.

Like most Astrophycists I love hiking and in the past 25 years I explored most of the Dolomiti and of the Bavarian Alps. I also love travelling a lot: to the most remote places in Italy, most of the the time visiting friends and just spend time with them, and all around the world - I will be always grateful to my work for the unique opportunity it offered and will be offering again to discover our amazing Earth. Ah, I cannot survive without visiting at least once per year Munich, my “second home” - I’ll be there in few days, my first international trip since the pandemic started! I love also reading books, watching movies and follow a lot sport events - nothing really peculiar, but very relaxing!

According to my friends I have a long list of anecdotes and funny experiences/coincidences - it seems I am a master of putting myself in troubles and then getting out by magic, especially when I am traveling. For example, back in 2007, I was able to board a plane without the boarding card, without money, and without a document to probe my identity…. I was “saved” by a colleague at MPE, back in time, who could guarantee for me.

I do not see anything I would like to change in my academic path - even the failures that I encountered (it took me 8 years after the PhD to get a permanent position) at the end twisted me to the right place (Bologna!, close to my family and in the region I grew up) and at the right time. The advice would be the same as above: choose what you like more, and pursue it with passion and dedication. And do not be afraid to push forward your ideas and discuss with your mentors.

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