Most of Chiara Zappalà’s research is related to competitive sports and sport performance. The Italian-born physicist wrote her doctoral thesis on the quantifiability of success in sports. In her recent study, Chiara Zappalà examines the often overlooked link between luck and sporting performance, concluding that the current system of sports rewarding system is inherently unfair. She has found that in both fencing and tennis, small fluctuations in individual match points can have a profound effect on an athlete’s entire career, significantly affecting their professional lives and ultimate success. Her research on sporting success is highly personal, having been a competitive fencer herself.
Her current contribution to the work of the Center for Collective Learning involves the study of different social systems from a physics perspective. In recent months, for example, she and her colleagues have been studying the factors that contribute to success and inequalities in the academic world. In the coming period, research will be carried out on the factors that determine the success and the emergence of inequalities in different social systems.
She describes the new research group of César Hidalgo as a very exciting and inspiring professional environment: “Exactly what I expected when I applied for the Center for Collective Learning postdoctoral fellowship. It is also a new experience for me to work with young researchers, mostly my own age, here at the centre”, she says enthusiastically. Chiara also enjoys the international atmosphere of CIAS. For example, you can run into visiting professors from all over the world researching very different topics, while making a coffee in the kitchen.
“There is a strong ambition at Corvinus to become as international as possible, so we are fortunate to be working in a very inclusive environment,” adds Chiara.
Her contract is for two and a half years, so she thinks she will have plenty of time to explore Budapest, which she is now getting to know better. She is just starting to develop her daily routine, has already enrolled in the Hungarian language course provided by Corvinus, and next year she wants join a gym.
Similar to the opinion of another CCL postdoctoral researcher Manran Zhu shared in a recent interview, Chiara also stresses how much she has learnt about science communication from César Hidalgo: “He is not only a great researcher, but also a great communicator. He can explain research in a way that is understandable and exciting to the lay audience, bringing science closer to the people”.
As an early-career researcher, she considers it exceptionally lucky to be part of an emerging and very topical research team: “Many of us are early-career researchers in this group, so it is a very unique opportunity, a bit like growing up together as researchers,” adds the Italian-born physics researcher.