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Debora M

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, particle physics, compact objects (neutron stars, black holes etc), data analytics, AI/ML


Hi! I'm Débora Mroczek and I am a physics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I'm a graduate fellow of the Illinois Center for Advanced Studies of Universe (ICASU), meaning that my research focuses on problems in fundamental physics at the intersections of cosmology, gravity, high energy, and nuclear physics. Most of my work so far has been in understanding the properties of nuclear matter in extreme conditions, especially in the phase where the smallest components of matter "melt" and form a quark-gluon plasma (known as the QGP). It is believed that the universe was in a QGP state microseconds after the Big Bang! Today, we are able to recreate these conditions in experiments at the LHC and Brookhaven National Lab, and it remains an open question whether the QGP is hiding out there in the universe in places like the core of neutron stars. This is a problem that requires lots of theoretical modeling and computational resources, so I have also done a great deal of programming, in particular with applications of AI/ML in Python. I'm originally from Brazil and I am very familiar with the struggles of obtaining and financing higher education in the U.S. In my 7 years here, I have become an expert in applying for scholarships and awards. I would love to chat about that if it's something you're interested in pursuing. In my free time, I enjoy going for long distance runs (I recently became a marathoner!), playing the electric bass, and exploring the world of vegan food in my kitchen.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Mirror Neutron Stars

Mirror matter is dark matter candidate and one possible way to detect it is if it binds gravitationally with regular nuclear matter to form neutron stars. This project would involve computing the gravitational interaction between the regular and mirror matter components of the neutron star, and making predictions for the star's mass-radius relationship, which can be confirmed observationally.

Coding skills

python, C++, C, TensorFlow, SciPy, Linux

Languages I know


Teaching experience

I have loved teaching since I was in high school when I first began tutoring basic math and physics. In college, I worked both at my university's tutoring center, helping students with advanced math courses and introductory physics courses, as well as a teaching support staff for the physics department in my junior and senior years. In graduate school, I have mentored undergraduate and high school students participating in research programs sponsored by the university.



University of Houston
BS Bachelor of Science
Physics and Mathematics (Nonlinear Systems)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Theoretical Nuclear Astrophysics

Completed Projects

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