Dr Will Handley

  • College positions:
    College Lecturer in Astrophysics
  • Subjects: Natural Sciences


MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge (2008-2012); PhD in Physics, University of Cambridge (2012-2016)


Research interests

Will Handley is a Royal Society University Research Fellow whose research centres around early universe cosmology and Bayesian machine learning.

Since his PhD he has maintained an interest in the initial conditions for inflation, examining the effect that high energy physics has on the universe a split second after the Big Bang. His current research is focused on examining the theoretical and observational consequences of primordial curvature, searching for imprints in the cosmic microwave background of the shape of the universe at the beginning of time.

In addition to theoretical investigation, he also examines the observational consequences of these new ideas; testing theories against the latest data from microwave telescopes and large scale structure surveys using the University supercomputers.

He works on developing novel Bayesian machine learning algorithms for high-dimensional parameter estimation, model comparison and tension quantification using nested sampling. Possible applications currently under investigation include protein folding, sparse reconstruction for facial recognition and Bayesian neural network training.

He leads the data analysis team for REACH, a team of cosmologists designing and operating a radio telescope to make an unambiguous detection of the global 21cm signal coming from the cosmic dawn.

He is a convener of the GAMBIT cosmology working group, working with a community of cosmologists, particle physicists and statisticians who use terrestrial collider data in conjunction with astrophysical observations to constrain theories of dark matter, neutrinos and modified gravity.


Teaching Interests

  • Supervisions: Part IA Mathematics for Natural Sciences (2012-2017)
  • Supervisions: Part IA Physics for Natural Sciences (Michaelmas 2015 - Easter 2016)
  • Supervisions: Part II General Relativity (2013-2018)
  • Demonstrating: Part II Theoretical Physics 1 (Michaelmas 2012)
  • Demonstrating: Part II Theoretical Physics 2 (Lent 2013)
  • Tripos Examples Classes: Part IA Mathematics for Natural Sciences (Easter 2014 -Present)


Awards and Prizes

  • December 2013: Best Presentation (Cavendish Graduate Students Conference)
  • 2011-2012: Best Theoretical final year project (University of Cambridge)
  • 2018: Gruber Prize (co-shared with Planck)


Key publications

A full list of publications can be found on arXiv, ORCID or Google Scholar.