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Dr Will Handley

Dr Will Handley

Research Fellow at Gonville & Caius College


Cosmic Microwave Background

Bayesian Statistics

Nested Sampling

Will Handley is available for consultancy.

Office Phone: (01223) 766660


2016 Oct-Present: Junior Research Fellow at Gonville & Caius College

2016 July-Sep: Postdoctoral position at UCL

2012-2016: PhD in Physics (University of Cambridge)

2008-2012: MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics (University of Cambridge)


Research Interests

Will Handley is a Theoretical Cosmologist, studying the very earliest moments of the universe. He completed his PhD in 2016 under his supervisors Anthony Lasenby and Mike Hobson.

His main interest is in "Initial Conditions for Inflation", examining the effect that high energy physics has on the universe a split second after the Big Bang. In 2014, he proved that that the pre-inflationary universe takes an extremely generic form, independent of the type of particle which drives the early accelerated expansion of the universe.

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

Recently, his work has focussed on developing novel Bayesian algorithms for high-dimensional parameter estimation and model comparison using nested sampling. Possible applications currently under investigation include protein folding and compressed sensing, in addition to cosmological parameter estimation and model comparison.

Will Handley is a member of the Planck Core HFI team 2.

Research Supervision

PhD Students: Lukas Hergt, Fruzsina Agocs, Will Barker

Postdoctoral researchers: Kamran Javid


  • Supervisions: Part IA Mathematics for Natural Sciences (Michaelmas 2012-present)
  • Supervisions: Part IA Physics for Natural Sciences (Michaelmas 2015 - Easter 2016)
  • Supervisions: Part II General Relativity (Michaelmas 2013-present)
  • 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)

Part III Projects


Other Professional Activities

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)


  • Bayesian Statistics, Third Asterics-Obelics workshop, Cambridge, UK (Oct 2018)
  • Planck, inflation and the future of inflationary constraints, Consistency of Cosmological Datasets, Cambridge, UK (May 2018)
  • MaxEnt priors with derived parameters in a specified distribution, Cambridge (May 2018)
  • Nested Sampling: an efficient and robust Bayesian inference tool for astrophysics and cosmology ICIC, London (May 2018)
  • Introduction to statistics, CosmoTools 18, RWTH Aachen, Germany (April 2018)
  • Advances in Nested Sampling and astrophysical application, Cambridge, UK (Jan 2018)
  • PolyChord 2.0: Fast cosmological inference with Nested Sampling, Cosmo 17 Paris (Aug 2017)
  • Modern Bayesian Inference: Theory and Practice, RWTH Aachen (Jun 2017)
  • Parameter estimation and Model comparison, IFT Summer School, Madrid (Mar 2017)
  • PolyChord 2.0: Advances in Nested Sampling with astrophysical applications, CCA, Flatiron institute, New York (Feb 2017)
  • PolyChord 2.0 & the future of nested sampling, University College London, UK. (Sep 2016)
  • PolyChord 2.0 & the future of nested sampling, University of Sussex, UK. (May 2016)
  • PolyChord & the future of nested sampling, Edinburgh, UK. (Mar 2016)
  • PolyChord: next generation nested sampling, Max Planck Institute, Germany. (Dec 2015)
  • PolyChord: next generation nested sampling, University of Sussex, UK. (Feb 2015)
  • Kinetic dominance in the pre-inflationary universe, Cavendish grad. conference (Dec 2013)



Machine Learning ; Bayesian Statistics ; Inflation ; Cosmology


  • Relativity and Gravitation