ESO Scientific Staff in Santiago/Chile

GAR = Garching; LS = La Silla; PAO = Paranal; SCV = Science Vitacura

See also the ESO Garching Staff and Research page for scientific staff in Garching.
Also available is a List of the Astronomers and Astronomical Institutes in Chile.

Faculty & Scientists

Joseph Anderson

Joseph Anderson is an ESO support astronomer and currently FORS2 instrument scientist. He obtained his PhD in astronomy at the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, in 2009, investigating the parent stellar populations of supernovae under the supervision of Phil James. Joseph then moved to a postdoc position at the Universidad de Chile, Chile, working with Mario Hamuy. He joined ESO at first as a fellow in 2013. Hi main research interests are the study of supernovae of different types, with a focus on investigating the progenitor and explosion characteristics of type II supernovae through analysing their observed diversity. He also spends a significant amount of time analysing supernova host galaxy and environment properties in order to constrain progenitor properties while also learning about star formation processes within galaxies.

Stephane Brillant
Stephane Brillant is an Operations Astronomer at the Paranal observatory. He received his PhD in physics from the University of Paris XI in 1999. After 2 years as a student in ESO during his PhD he came back in 1999 as a fellow and moved in 2001 to his current position in Paranal. While his PhD was more in theoretical physics, he moved to more observational study and has been working mostly on extrasolar planet using various technics including microlensing. He is now working mostly on the study of the atmosphere of extrasolar planet using in particular CRIRES to study their chemical composition.

Fernando Comerón

Fernando Comerón is the ESO Representative in Chile since April 2013. He graduated in Physics from the University of Barcelona in 1988, and obtained his PhD from the same institution in 1992 after several pre- and post-doctoral research stays at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon and the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona. He was university assistant at the University of Barcelona between 1991 and 1995, until he joined ESO in October 1995 as a fellow in Garching. After a period as senior fellow he became user support astronomer in 1999, shortly after the first unit of the VLT entered operations. He has been head of the User Support Department (2001-2006) and head of the Data Management and Operations Division (2006-2012). His current scientific interests focus on young stellar objects at both ends of the stellar and substellar mass function, the study of manifestations of stellar youth at low masses such as accretion and outflows, and the dynamics of the interstellar medium.

Itziar de Gregorio-Monsalvo

Itziar de Gregorio-Monsalvo is the Head of the ALMA Program Management group.  She did her PhD in the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology,  using the NASA Deep Space Network antennas to set up Radio Astronomy observations and performing star formation studies at centimeter wavelengths.  She joint ESO in 2006 as an ESO ALMA fellow with duties at the APEX telescope,  the Atacama Test Facility (in Socorro, New Mexico), and the Operations  Support Facilities near San Pedro de Atacama.   She became ESO Faculty member in 2010, working as an ALMA Science Operations Astronomer. 
Her main research activities are focused in star and planetary formation, in particular: 

  • Star, planets, and brown dwarfs formation
  • Protoplanetary disks formation and evolution
  • Jets and molecular outflows
  • Astrophysical masers
  • Centimeter, Millimeter and Submillimeter Astronomy: Interferometry and Single Dish techniques

Planets and Star Formation

Willem-Jan De Wit

Willem-Jan de Wit is a VLTI support astronomer. His scientific interest is star formation and in particular the formation of massive stars. With the VLTI, he studies the harsh environment of the immediate vicinity of massive stars during their assembly process. His research involves the properties of young stellar clusters and how they relate to the character of massive star formation in Galaxies. He received his PhD from the University of Utrecht in 2001.

Scientific interests:

  • Star formation and young stellar clusters
  • Long baseline optical interferometry
  • Circumstellar material and stellar variability


Bill Dent
Bill Dent joined ESO in 2008 as a System Astronomer for ALMA. He obtained his PhD from the University of Kent, then worked at NASA MSFC, before moving to the JCMT as a support astronomer. He then alternated between Hawaii and UKATC Edinburgh, working mostly on support of JCMT observers and heterodyne instrumentation. Before moving to ALMA, he worked at the UKATC on studies for new IR & sub-mm instrumentation. His main research interests are in star & planet formation, particularly debris disks, protoplanetary disks and IR/submm spectroscopy.

Michael Dumke

Michael Dumke is support astronomer at the APEX project. He received his PhD from Bonn University in 1997 for his work on the interstellar medium in nearby galaxies. Since then, he gained a lot of experience in radio astronomical instrumentation and techniques as a post-doc or staff member at IRAM Grenoble, the Heinrich-Hertz Submillimeter Telescope in Arizona, and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy in Bonn. In 2004, he joined ESO as part of the science operations team of the APEX telescope. His main research interests are molecular gas at low and high redshift, disk-halo interaction, magnetic fields, cold dust, and the ISM in general in normal and active galaxies.

Personal home page

Boris Haeussler

Boris Häußler (Haeussler) is an ESO staff astronomer at Paranal as of November 2015. Born in Karlsruhe, he received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Heidelberg in Germany (PhD thesis at MPIA). He then moved to Nottingham, UK for 2 consecutive 2 postdoc positions and, after another postdoc in Oxford (while also being associated with Hertfordshire), he moved to ESO/Santiago to work at Paranal Observatory.
His main interest lies in galaxy formation and evolution, especially how galaxies transform from the blue cloud of star-forming (disk-dominated) galaxies into the red & spheroid-dominated galaxies that populate the red sequence today. He is a member of several large collaborations (CANDELS, GAMA, VIDEO) to explore this transformation over a large fraction of cosmic time.
He is also one of the authors and the current keeper of the public GALAPAGOS code, which runs galaxy profile fitting on a large galaxy sample automatically.
This code uses GalfitM, an extended Galfit version that uses multiple images at different wavelengths simultaneously in order to improve the quality of the fits and produce more stable results, allowing the extension of galaxy samples to fainter magnitudes. GALAPAGOS/GalfitM also enable more accurate bulge-disk-decompositions, and the derivation of colour-magnitude or magnitude-size-relations for the individual galaxy components.

His research interests are:

  • Galaxy formation and evolution
  • Galaxy transformation from blue, star-forming disks to red, "dead" ellipticals
  • Build-up of the red sequence
  • Bulge/Disc decomposition of galaxies both at low and high redshift (redshift, not km/s)

Personal home page

Evolution of galaxies

George Hau

George Hau received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1998. After postdoctoral positions at P.U. Catolica, ESO (as Fellow), Durham and Swinburne, George returned to ESO as Operations Staff Astronomer in 2010, supporting the adaptive optics effort at ESO. He is currently the SINFONI and EFOSC2 Instrument Scientists, and MUSE #2 Instrument Scientist, and formerly NACO#2 Instrument Scientist. He is also the UT4 team leader. George has broad interests on extragalactic astronomy, the topics include:

  • Galaxy formation and Evolution
  • "Galaxy Archaeology" using the morphological, kinematic and stellar population signatures.
  • Kinematically decoupled cores (KDCs) and shells in early-type galaxies.

Xavier Haubois

Xavier Haubois is the VLTI System Scientist at Paranal Observatory since December 2016. Xavier was previously a Fellow since October 2014. He got his PhD in 2009 at Observatoire de Paris that was focused on infrared interferometric imaging of evolved stars and the design phase of GRAVITY. After his thesis, he obtained a post-doctoral contract at the University of São Paulo (IAG) to work on the modelling of circumstellar environments and at the University of Sydney to deepen his skills in optical interferometry. His research focuses on mass-loss processes in evolved stars observed at high angular resolution.

His research interests are:

  • Evolved stars
  • The Galactic Center
  • Be stars
  • Optical Interferometry and high angular resolution imaging

Personal home page

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Pascale Hibon

Scientific Interests:
  • High redshift galaxies
  • Galaxy evolution & formation
  • Galaxy clusters

Andreas Kaufer

Andreas Kaufer is the Director of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. He received his degree in Physics from Heidelberg University in 1993. In 1996 he graduated with a PhD in Astronomy from the same university. He became ESO staff member in 1999 and joined the VLT Science Operations department. He has been the Paranal instrument scientists of UVES and later FLAMES. In 2003 he became the instrumentation scientist of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. His research activities focus on the fields of stellar astrophysics, galaxy evolution, and state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation.

Thomas Klein
(APEX - Scientist)
Thomas Klein is the Head of the APEX telescope facilities on Chajnantor and Sequitor. In 1996 he received his degree in Physics from the University of Bonn where he also graduated with a PhD in Astronomy in 1999. Since then he was a staff scientist at the Max-Planck Institut fuer Radioastronomie, where he focused his interests on the development of THz instrumentation for astronomy and accumulated a strong background on submillimeter observing techniques at various telescopes. In 2000 he started his involvement in the HERSCHEL/HIFI project as the lead system engineer for the HIFI local oscillator system. Until the end of the HIFI mission, in April 2013, he supported HIFI’s Instrument control center. In 2007 he became the group leader of the MPIfR’s heterodyne submillimeter technology group, developing the institute’s PI instrumentation for APEX and SOFIA. Since 2008, he was a frequent guest scientist at APEX, accompanying the PI instruments of the MPIfR, before he joined ESO and APEX in September 2013.            

Ruediger Kneissl

Rüdiger Kneissl joined ESO in 2009 as Science Operations Astronomer in the ALMA project. He received his PhD from the University of Munich and the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics in 1997. During appointments at the University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley and MPI for Radio Astronomy in Bonn he worked with various radio interferometers and the APEX telescope. He has also been involved in the Planck satellite mission for many years. His main scientific interest is in

  • Cosmic Microwave Background
  • Galaxy Clusters via the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect
  • High-Redshift Dusty Galaxies

Cosmology and the Early Universe

Cédric Ledoux

Cédric Ledoux  is a support astronomer at the Very Large Telescope on Paranal. His main research interests include the properties and evolution of galaxies as revealed by QSO absorption-line systems, the study of metals, dust and molecules in the interstellar medium of high-redshift galaxies, the distribution and physical properties of the gas in and around the host galaxies of Gamma-Ray Bursts, and the detection of galaxies in emission up to the highest redshifts. He is deeply involved in the operations of the Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) and is currently the instrument scientist of the Echelle Spectrograph for Rocky Exoplanets and Stable Spectroscopic Observations (ESPRESSO).

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM; Cosmology and the Early Universe

Stéphane Leon

Stéphane Leon Tanne is System Astronomer at ALMA. He received his PhD from the University Paris 7 in 1998. His main interests are the effects of the environment on stellar systems. He studied the tidal tails in globular clusters using wide field telescopes and numerical simulations. While he was working at IRAM (Spain) he studied the dynamics of the molecular gas in galaxies using single-dish and interferometer telescopes. Since his post-docs at ASIAA (Taiwan) and at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (Spain) he works actively on the ISM content of radio galaxies, barred and isolated galaxies.

Gaspare Lo Curto

Gianni Marconi

Gianni Marconi is Commissioning Scientist of the ALMA Observatory (Array Group lead). He received his degree (cum Laude) in Astronomy from Bologna University in 1987. In 1991 he graduated with a PhD in Astronomy from the same university. From 1994 to 2005 he held an assistant professorship and was member of the Director Board at the Observatory of Rome.  In 1999 he became ESO staff member and joined the VLT Science Operations department. He has been the Paranal instrument scientists of VIMOS between 2002 and 2005. From 2006 to 2010 he has been the Instrumentation Operation Teams Coordinator of the La Silla Paranal Observatory. From 2010 he has been seconded to the JAO office for the commissioning of ALMA.  His main research activities focus on the fields of stellar astrophysics, star formation history and chemical evolution of galaxies, and state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation and telescopes.

Scientific interests:

  • Globular Clusters
  • Open Clusters
  • Chemical Abundances of stars in the Local Group
  • Star Formation and Chenical Evolution History of Dwarf Galaxies in the Local Group
  • X-rays Binaries
  • Neutron Stars

Stellar populations; Evolution of Galaxies and ISM

Christophe Martayan

Christophe Martayan joined ESO in 2009 as Paranal support astronomer and will be FLAMES instrument scientist. He received his PhD in Physics-astrophysics from Paris XI University and Meudon Observatory, France in 2005. By after he was employed at the ESO-Garching, the Paris Observatory, and  the Royal Observatory of Belgium. He worked as manager of modules for the scientific preparation of the GAIA space mission, and on the analysis of million of spectra taken with the ESO-WFI in its slitless mode. His current research activities concern the stellar evolution of massive and emission-line stars (O, B, Be, LBV, GRB) in different environments of metallicity (Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds, etc). He is also involved in the GAIA space mission about emission-line stars and in the scientific preparation of a multi-object spectrograph for the E-ELT.

Sergio Martin
(JAO/SCV - Scientist)

Scientific Interests:
  • Evolution of active galaxies
  • Molecular spectroscopy of galactic nuclei
  • The Galactic Center 

Gautier Mathys

Gautier Mathys is Lead Astronomer of the Proposal Handling Team. He obtained his PhD in Physics in 1983, and his Habilitation in 1990, both at the University of Liege. After 8 years in Switzerland (first at the ETH in Zurich, then at the Geneva Observatory), he moved to ESO-Chile in 1991, where he worked as support astronomer at the La Silla Observatory and, as of 1998, at the Paranal Observatory; in particular he was Head of Science Operations from 1999 to early 2006. From 2006 to 2011, he was Head of ESO's  Observing Programmes Office, in charge of the support of the observing proposal selection process. His main research interests are stellar magnetic fields and stellar pulsation, with particular emphasis on the chemically peculiar A- and B-type stars.

Andrea Mehner

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Scientific interests:

  • Late stages of massive star evolution
  • Variable massive stars
  • Supernova impostors and progenitors

Jorge Melnick

Jorge Melnick was the VLT Programme Scientist.  His research interests include violent star formation, galactic and extragalactic starbursts and the evolution of  massive stars. 
He is now retired as astronomer emeritus at ESO.

Claudio Melo

Claudio Melo is Head of the Office for Science in Chile. His main interests focus in finding planets in different environments such as open clusters, metal poor stars and young stars. From the technical point of view, Claudio is familiar with high-precision radial velocity measurements and interested in how to overcome the different sources of noise to reach the 10cm/s precision with ESPRESSO and eventually to find an exo-Earth. For the coming years, he is willing to develop new projects in the field of Astrobiology.

Personal home page

Steffen Mieske

Steffen Mieske is the Head of Science Operations at Paranal. He obtained his PhD in astronomy in 2005 from Bonn University. Between 2000 and 2004 he spent about 3 years in Chile at PUC, pursueing research for his Master's and PhD theses. In 2005 he joined ESO as a fellow in Garching and moved to ESO Chile in August 2008 as Staff Astronomer. Steffen has acted as instrument scientist of OmegaCAM and VIMOS, and was Deputy Head of Science Operations between 2014 and 2015 before moving to his current position in July 2015. His scientific interests comprise the high-mass end of the globular cluster population and ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs), and generally the internal dynamics of compact stellar systems. Recently he has focused in particular on the search for super-massive black holes in UCDs. Steffen is also interested in ensemble properties of dwarf galaxies, such as their scaling relations, luminosity function, internal kinematics and stellar populations. During his PhD time, he studied the shape of the Hubble flow in the "Great Attractor" region.

Personal home page

Julien Milli

Julien Milli is the Paranal Adaptive Optics (AO) scientist as of November 2016. He obtained  his PhD in 2014 from the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble (IPAG) after spending 2 years at ESO Santiago with the studentship program. He was a fellow at ESO with duties in Paranal on UT3 from 2014 to 2016. He uses adaptive optics and high-contrast imaging techniques to reveal the circumstellar environment of stars. His main interest focuses on debris disk: their formation, evolution and the characterisation of the dust properties. His main achievements include the characterisation of the debris disk around beta Pictoris and HR4796. He is also interested in instrumentation for adaptive optics and develops algorithms to reduce high-contrast data.

Francisco Montenegro
(APEX/SCV - Scientist)

Francisco M. Montenegro Montes is the Head of Science Operations at the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX). He started his career in Tenerife (Spain) at the Universidad de La Laguna (ULL) and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) where he was involved in the preparation of mid/far-IR surveys with Spitzer and Herschel (SWIRE). He obtained his Ph.D. working at the Istituto di Radioastronomia in Bologna (Italy) on the study of the radio properties of Broad Absorption-Line Quasars (BAL QSOs) and the characterization of synchrotron spectra and polarization properties of AGNs. In 2009 Francisco joined ESO and the Science Operations team at APEX where he served as a support astronomer for 6 years. In 2015 Francisco became the leader of the group, which currently is composed of 5 operations astronomers, 2 observing specialists and 3 telescope operators.

Personal home page

Juan Carlos Muñoz

Juan Carlos Muñoz Mateos is a Paranal Operations Staff Astronomer. He is mainly interested in galaxy formation and evolution, as well as the physics of the interstellar medium. He completed his PhD in 2010 at Complutense University in Madrid, Spain. In his thesis he worked extensively with UV, optical, IR and radio data to map the distribution of stars, gas and dust in nearby galaxies, and used that information to constrain the past assembly and evolution of galaxies. He then moved as a postdoc to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, USA, where he worked within the Spitzer Survey of Stellar Structure in Galaxies (S4G). He led and developed the S4G surface photometry pipeline, and used the S4G data to investigate how features such as bars and spiral arms can drive stellar migration in galaxies. He now plans to exploit ESO's existing and upcoming instruments to further pursue his research on galaxy assembly at different redshifts.

Personal home page

Lars-Åke Nyman
Lars-Åke Nyman is the Head of Science Operations of ALMA. He obtained his PhD at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. In 1989 he became responsible for the operations of SEST on La Silla, and in 2003 he took up the position as the Station Manager of APEX. He formally started to work for ALMA in 2007, but was involved in the project long before that as responsible for the European contribution to ALMA site characterization. He is a specialist on mm and submm observations and techniques.
His research interests include the study of circumstellar envelopes around evolved stars, star formation and the large scale distribution of molecular clouds and star forming regions in the Milky Way.



Claudia Paladini

Scientific Interests:
  • Evolved Stars
  • Stellar Atmospheres, Mass Loss
  • Long Baseline Optical Interferometry

Rodrigo Parra

Rodrigo Parra is a staff astronomer at the APEX project. He obtained an Electrical Engineering Degree at Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria and a MSc in Microwave Digital Communications Systems at Chalmers University. Subsequently, he received a PhD in Radio Astronomy from the Onsala Space Observatory. He has a strong background in both single dish and interferometric observational astronomy at cm/mm/submm wavelengths. He is expert in holographic techniques (used to assess and maintain the APEX main dish surface accuracy) and development and implementation of telescope pointing models.
He is interested in the study of possible evolutionary connections between AGN and starburst activity. He also collaborates in several research projects whose topics include interstellar masers, dense molecular gas in star-forming regions and theoretical models of propagation of radiation in clumpy media.

Scientific interests:

  • AGN/Starburst Activity
  • Interferometry
  • Type II Supernovae
  • Radiative Transfer Models

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Juan-Pablo Pérez-Beaupuits
(APEX - Scientist)

Juan-Pablo Pérez-Beaupuits is an APEX Staff Astronomer since August 2015. He obtained an Electrical Engineering Degree at Universidad de Chile and a MSc in Space Science and Radio Astronomy at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Subsequently, he received his PhD from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, in 2010, working on the chemical fingerprints of star-forming regions and active galaxies (
He is a former Humboldt Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR:, Bonn, Germany, and subsequent staff scientist at the same MPIfR before joining ESO/APEX. Besides his interest in the evolutionary connections and feedback effects between AGN and starburst activity (using mm and sub-mm observations and theoretical/MHD models), he is also deeply interested in studying the ambient conditions of HII and massive star-forming regions with multi-wavelength observations. He actively performs galactic and extragalactic Terahertz observations using the SOFIA/GREAT airborne observatory ( in close collaboration with the MPIfR and the German Space Agency (DLR: He also collaborates in several research projects including the chemical effects of supernovae in their surrounding gas; shocks, PDR and XDR models, MHD simulations and 3D radiative transfer models of an AGN torus.

Scientific interests:

  • AGN/Seyfert galaxies
  • HII/star-forming regions
  • PDR/XDR and 3D radiative transfer models

Neil Phillips

(JAO/SCV - Scientist)

Neil Phillips joined ESO in July 2011 as a Test Scientist at ALMA, where he commissions the antennas and receiver systems. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 2011, working on infrared and sub-millimetre surveys of circumstellar discs. He has previously worked on optical and radio instrumentation projects. His technical interests include far-IR to radio wavelength observing techniques and instrumentation, calibration, data reduction algorithms, astronomical databases and the Virtual Observatory, and generally tinkering with anything technical. His scientific interests revolve around circumstellar debris discs, with particular interest in statistically relating disc properties with stellar properties, and accurate stellar flux distribution modelling to improve photometric dust detection limits.

Emanuela Pompei

Emanuela Pompei is working as FORS and NACO instrument scientist at the Paranal La Silla Observatory. She obtained her PhD from University of Trieste in Italy in 1999 and joined ESO the same year. She has worked both on La Silla and on Paranal as Boller&Chivens, DFOSC, FEROS, EMMI- NTT, MUSE and HAWK-I instrument scientist,  WFI,  EFOSC2 , KMOS, SINFONI support astronomer.
Her research interests center on the dynamics and chemical evolution of galaxies, on compact groups and clusters of galaxies, as probes of the formation and evolution of large scale structures.
She is a member of the XXL and VANDELS consortia.

Personal home page

Thomas Rivinius

Thomas Rivinius has studied at the University of Heidelberg, where he got his PhD in 1998. After three years of ESO fellowship in Garching he returned to Heidelberg to become "Privatdozent". Since 2005 he's back at ESO, this time in Chile as science operations support astronomer on Paranal at the VLTI. Currently, he's the intrument scientist for MIDI. His research focusses on hot stars and their circumstellar environments, covering stellar pulsation, hot star winds, magnetic O and B-type stars, and Be stars and their disks.

Personal home page

Florian Rodler

Florian Rodler is an ESO Staff Astronomer at the Paranal Observatory since September 2016. Already as kid he was fascinated by the stars and the universe; he decided to make his dream come true and studied Astronomy at the University of Vienna, Austria. In 2008, Florian obtained his PhD degree at the University of Vienna with a thesis on atmospheric properties of giant exoplanets. After his PhD he spent five years in Spain, working in Tenerife and Barcelona. In 2013, he joined the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, USA. In 2014, he was awarded the Alexander-von-Humboldt fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.
His main research interest - exoplanet atmospheres - is ultimately driven by the hunt for life on other worlds. Their atmospheres bear the key to reveal life forms, as they may produce gases that alter the atmospheric composition. With the upcoming technology of the extremely large telescopes, we astronomers will finally be able to answer one of the most fundamental questions: Are we alone in the universe?
Florian is currently working on projects that are aiming to refine the observational techniques for inspecting exoplanet atmospheres. He is an expert on spectroscopy in the visual and near-infrared.

His work interests are:

  • Exoplanet Atmospheres
  • Astrobiology
  • Pulsating Stars
  • Public Outreach

Miguel Sanchez-Portal
(JAO/SCV - Scientist)

Miguel Sánchez Portal - ALMA Deputy Program Manager. His main science interests deal with the high-redshift universe, specifically in relation to the study galaxy clusters, with an emphasis environmental effects in galaxy evolution and comparison of cluster vs. field evolution.  To accomplish such studies, he is involved in several multi-wavelength deep surveys, in X-ray, optical, IR and submillimetre ranges.
He is also interested in the study of the properties of the host galaxies of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and the interplay between nuclear activity and galaxy evolution.
Technical interests: Ground- and space-based instrumentation in the optical, IR and (sub)millimetre ranges. Radio interferometry.

Eleonora Sani

Eleonora Sani joined ESO as a Staff Astronomer in March 2015. In 2009 Eleonora obtained her PhD degree at the University of Firenze, Italy, with a thesis on the connection and energetic balance between active galactic nuclei (AGN) and star formation in active galaxies both in the local Universe and at high redshift. For this purposes she adopted a multiwavelenght approach, spanning from the X-rays to the sub-mm frequencies, and developed new diagnostic diagrams. Part of this work was developed at the Max Planck Institute fuer Extraterrestrische Phisik in Munich, Germany, institute that she visited again during her first postdoc. She passed the last 3 years working for the LBT italian community as a support astronomer and executing observations at the telescope. Currently the main research interests span from the feeding/feedback mechanisms in local AGN, to the black hole-bulge scaling relations, till the evolution and role of AGNs on protoclusters.

Ivo Saviane

Ivo Saviane has been in its position as La Silla Site Manager officially since October 2013. However, his history at ESO commenced about 12 years ago. That is when he first came to ESO, to join a Fellowship programme at La Silla that lasted three years from 2001 to 2003. Right after that he became an Operations Staff Astronomer at La Silla, starting a steady career closely related with the site. Among other positions at La Silla, he has been at various times Instrument Scientist of FEROS, TIMMI2, EMMI, and EFOSC2, and he became Head of Science Operations in 2008. After moving to Paranal as an Operations Staff Astronomer, he became Instrument Scientist of FORS2 and later KMOS.
Ivo obtained his Masters degree in Astronomy from the University of Padova in 1991 with work based on colour-magnitude diagrams of three Galactic globular clusters, under the supervision of Prof. M. Capaccioli and Dr. G. Piotto. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the same university in 1997.

Luca Sbordone

Luca Sbordone joined ESO in June 2016 as a Staff Astronomer. He obtained his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Rome “Torn Vergata”, Italy, in 2005. Subsequently, he was part of the CIFIST Marie Curie Excellence Team at Paris Observatory, France, and held postdoc positions at Max Planck Institüt für Astrophysik, Munich, Germany, Landessternwarte Heidelberg, Germany, and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. His main research interests are the chemical analysis of cool stars in the Milky Way and Local Group (LG) galaxies, and the modeling of cool stars atmospheres. He is particularly interested in the chemical composition of LG dwarf Spheroidal galaxies and associated tidal streams, the characterization of multiple populations in globular clusters, the evolution of Lithium, and the search and characterization of extremely metal-poor stars. He is also an expert in the development and deployment of fast automatic codes for the determination of stellar atmospheric parameters and chemical abundances in large spectroscopic samples, and in the production of large libraries of synthetic stellar spectra. He is Second Instrument Scientist for X-Shooter. Observationally his main tools are intermediate- and high-resolution optical and infrared spectroscopy.

Linda Schmidtobreick
Linda Schmidtobreick is currently working on Paranal as instrument scientist for KMOS as well as support astronomer for UT1, UT3, and VLTI. In the past, she has been instrument scientist of EFOSC at La Silla and ISAAC at Paranal and coordinator of the TrainDoc and GenOps groups.
During the early years of her career she worked on interplanetary astronomy, studying comets, the Zodiacal light, and the Gegenschein. For her PhD (1997 at the Ruhruniversitaet Bochum, Germany), she studied the Galactic structure in the UV and later expanded that also to other galaxies using surface photometry and stellar population synthesis methods.  She took postdoc positions in Bochum, the MPIA in Heidelberg, and the Osservatorio Astronomico di Padua, Italy. In 2001, she started as an ESO fellow on La Silla, and in 2005 got her current staff position. By now, Linda is mainly working on compact binaries, i.e. cataclysmic variables. She is interested in the physical evolution of these systems, the nova-binary connection, and the physics of the accretion disc. In addition, she likes teaching and to work with students and spends a large fraction of her time on public outreach.

Fernando Selman

Fernando Selman's current observational research interests include studies of the nature of the stellar IMF, and the dynamics and binary content in 30 Doradus using SINFONI, and the physics of medusa galaxies studied with MUSE. On a larger scales he iinterested in the intergalactic light in clusters of galaxies. On a theoretical side he is interested in the dynamics of gravitational systems with particular attention to the phenomenon of dynamical friction. As an observatory astronomer, he has been instrument scientist for the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at La Silla, and HAWK-I, VIMOS, and OmegaCam at Paranal. He is currently the instrument scientist for MUSE at Paranal. He started his career as a physics student at the School of Engineering of Universidad de Chile subsequently obtaining his PhD at Caltech in 2004. During his strongly acausal career he was Fulbright Travel fellow, Carnegie-Chile Fellow, and Beatrice Watson Parrent postdoctoral fellow.

Personal home page

Giorgio Siringo
(JAO/SCV - Scientist)

Giorgio Siringo joined ESO in September 2009 as Operations Staff Astronomer at APEX. In June 2012 he moved to the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) as Test Scientist. Since September 2013 he works at JAO as Senior RF Engineer and Front-End Technical Lead within the Engineering Services Group.
He has previously worked at the University "La Sapienza" of Rome, Italy, (Experimental Cosmology Group) and at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) of Bonn, Germany (Mm/Submmm Astronomy and Bolometer Development Group).
He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 2003 from the University of Bonn with a thesis on a polarimeter for bolometer cameras.
He has a strong background in observational astronomy at mm/submm wavelengths and also in technology design and development.
His main research interests are:

  • Cosmology and Early Universe: high-z submm galaxies, anisotropies and polarization of the Cosmic Background Radiation; mm/submm sensitive continuum detection
  • the role of the magnetic field in the star formation process, dust polarization and magnetic fields in molecular clouds; mm/submm spectro-polarimetry
  • AGN variability and polarization at mm/submm wavelengths; mm/submm interferometry and VLBI

Alain Smette

Alain Smette is a VLT operations Staff Astronomer. Following studentships at ESO-Garching and La Silla, he received his PhD from the Universite de Liege, Belgium, in 1994. He was a Post-Doc at Kapteyn Institute, Groningen, and a research associate first at the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, in the STIS team, then back in Liege. His research interests mainly include the study of absorption lines in the spectra of quasars and gamma-ray burst optical afterglows, gravitational lensing and AGN. He is the instrument scientist of CRIRES.

Jonathan Smoker


Jonathan Smoker is a VLT Operations Staff Astronomer and the instrument scientist for CRIRES (previously FLAMES and UVES). He obtained his PhD from Manchester University (Jodrell Bank), England in 1993 studying low surface brightness dwarf galaxies in HI and the optical, before moving on to be a computer systems administrator at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and IoA, Cambridge. After that came a 4-year stint as a postdoc at Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland, then 3 years at ESO Chile which he left in 2005. He is now back at the VLT, working on high velocity clouds, tiny-scale structure in the interstellar medium, the Magellanic system and some work on supernovae, B-type and Post-AGB stars.

Personal home page

Thomas Szeifert

Thomas Szeifert is support astronomer at the VLT since 1999. Before he was working for the FORS instrument consortium at the observatory in Heidelberg. He has been instrument scientist at Paranal for the FORS optical multi-mode instrument and the SINFONI near-IR adaptive optics integral field spectrograph. His primary fields of research are the study of long-term wind variability of Luminous Blue Variables and other massive hot stars and stellar abundance studies in the Galaxy and local group galaxies. He obtained his PhD in 1995 at the Heidelberg University for his work on Luminous Blue Variable Stars in the Magellanic clouds, M31 and M33.

Personal home page


Massimo Tarenghi

Astronomer Emeritus

Karl Torstensson
(APEX/SCV - Scientist)

Scientific interests:

  • High-mass star formation
  • ISM
  • Centimetre, millimetre and submillimetre Astronomy
  • Interferometry
  • VLBI

Konrad Tristram

Konrad Tristram is an operations staff astronomer at Paranal. He received his PhD in 2007 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, where he started his investigation of active galactic nuclei (AGN) at highest angular resolutions. After his PhD he moved to Bonn becoming an interferometry specialist. He joined ESO in April 2014 in order to support the interferometric effort at Paranal. He continues working on the dust and gas surrounding the supermassive black holes in AGN. Driven by his science, he holds a special interest in high angular resolution imaging and spectroscopy as well as in infrared & submm interferometry. Since 2015, he is the instrument scientist of VISIR.

His research interests are:

  • active galactic nuclei
  • supermassive black holes
  • nearby active galaxies
  • very high angular resolution imaging and spectroscopy
  • optical and infrared interferometry

Personal home page

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Eric Villard
(JAO/SCV - Scientist)

Eric Villard is a System Astronomer on ALMA. He joined ESO in January 2010, after obtaining his PhD at Service d'Aéronomie du CNRS (near Paris) in 2008. While at Service d'Aéronomie, he also worked on the science operations of the European Venus Express mission, in particular the SPICAV instrument. His main research interest is the study of planetary atmospheres at various wavelengths. Other research interests include astrometry, the study of comets, exoplanets and galaxy evolution (bars).

  • Planetary atmospheres
  • Exoplanets

Planets and Star Formation


Zahed Wahhaj

Zahed Wahhaj joined ESO as a VLT astronomer in 2012, as one of the instrument scientists for the exoplanet imager, SPHERE. He is interested in the direct-imaging and characterization of exoplanets, brown dwarfs and circumstellar debris disks. Before joining ESO, he was a core team member of the Gemini NICI Planet-Finding Campaign, a direct-imaging search for giant planets around 300 nearby young stars, at the University of Hawaii. He was also involved in the Cores-to-Disks Spitzer Legacy Program (2003-2006), where he worked on understanding weak-line TT stars, through the evolution of their mid-infrared (MIR) disk emission. His dissertation work was on planetary signatures in debris disks. This involved Keck high-resolution MIR imaging and Bayesian modeling of the dust disks around Beta Pictoris, HR 4796A and 49 Ceti. Zahed Wahhaj received his PhD in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 2005.


Bin Yang

Bin Yang is an ESO staff Astronomer with duties at the VLT since December 2016. She received her PhD from the University of Hawaii in 2009, where she studied the physical properties of Solar System small bodies (e.g. asteroids and comets) using various facilities atop Mauna Kea. She joined ESO at first as a science fellow in 2013. She is interested in the formation of planetary systems, particularly the formation and evolution of our own solar system. Her other interests include Extreme Adaptive Optics, High-contrast Imaging and Astrobiology.


Elizabeth 'Liz' Bartlett

Scientific interests:

  • Massive Stars and the role of binarity in their evolution
  • Multi-wavelength properties of High Mass X-ray Binaries
  • X-ray emitting massive binaries

Jesus M. Corral-Santana

Jesús Corral-Santana is an ESO Fellow with duties in Paranal since October 2016. Jesús received his PhD in Astrophysics at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL) in the Canary Islands (Spain) in 2012, working in the X-ray binaries group leaded by Jorge Casares. After his thesis, he moved to Chile as a FONDECYT Fellow at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile where he worked with Franz E. Bauer. His main research topic is the study of stellar-mass black holes in X-ray binaries and, in particular, those found in X-ray transients. One of his main goals is to dynamically confirm the presence of black holes (using optical and near-infrared photometry and spectroscopy) in order to increase the currently scarce sample of black hole transients, which is essential to understand several aspects of physics and astrophysics such as, for instance, the final stages of stellar evolution, supernovae explosions and the formation of compact objects. In addition, he is a member of the VVV and EGAPS (IPHAS, UVEX and VPHAS+) surveys performed, among others, with the VISTA and VST telescopes.

Scientific interests:

  • X-ray binaries in optical and infrared wavelengths
  • Stellar-mass black holes in transient systems
  • Interacting binaries, accretion disks and black holes in general

Stellar structure  and evolution

Bruno Dias

Bruno Dias is an ESO fellow with duties in Paranal since July 2015. He is the instrument fellow of FORS2 and operates UT1, that includes FORS2, KMOS, and NACO. He received his PhD from IAG - Universidade de São Paulo, in Brazil in 2014, with a prize of best thesis of the year from the same institute. During the PhD he was granted an ESO studentship for one year in Chile. Before coming back to ESO he was a post-doc at Durham University, UK. His main science interests involves stellar clusters and stellar populations to understand stellar and galaxy evolution in the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. He has experience on spectroscopy and photometry that is applied to his work on FORS2. He is also a member of the spectroscopic survey GOTHAM and the photometric surveys VVV and VISCACHA.

Scientific Interests:

  • Star clusters in the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds 
  • Dynamical interactions in the Magellanic Clouds 
  • Multiple populations in globular clusters

Personal home page


Alexandre Gallenne

Scientific Interests:
  • High angular resolution techniques: long-baseline interferometry, Adaptive optics
  • Cepheid stars: angular diameters, distances, binarity, circumstellar envelopes
  • Extragalactic distance scale

Ruben Herrero-Illana

Rubén Herrero-Illana is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA. He obtained his PhD in 2014 at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), in Granada, Spain. He is mainly interested in luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies from a multi-wavelength perspective. He studies them at different spatial scales, from their overall gas structure as traced by mm observations, to their innermost regions using high-resolution NIR data and radio interferometric observations. In particular, he is focused on their star formation properties and on the connection between the AGN and the starburst processes. After his first postoc, also at the IAA-CSIC, he started to work at ESO in September 2016.

Yara Jaffe

Yara Jaffé is a fellow at ESO with duties at Paranal. She obtained her PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2012, and held postdoctoral positions in Padova and Concepción before joining ESO. Her research mainly focuses on the effect of environment on galaxy formation and evolution. Her specific research interests include: gas stripping processes, the quenching of star formation in groups and clusters, and the formation of early-type galaxies.


Personal home page


Evelyn Johnston

Evelyn Johnston completed her PhD at the University of Nottingham, UK, in August 2014, and joined ESO as a fellow in September 2014 with duties at Paranal. Her research areas include the formation of counter-rotating stellar discs and the processes that suppress the star formation in spiral galaxies, thus leading to their transformation into lenticulars.

Personal home page



Matias Jones

Scientific Interests:

  • Extrasolar planets, precision radial velocities
  • Planetary systems orbiting evolved stars
  • Transiting systems and detection of companion-induced astrometric signals

Jorge Lillo Box

Jorge Lillo-Box graduated in Physics from the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) and started his PhD in the Astrobiology Center (INTA-CSIC, Madrid, Spain) on the detection and characterization of extrasolar planets under the supervision of Dr. David Barrado. In particular, he focused on the ground-based follow-up of Kepler planet candidates with different techniques (high-spatial resolution and radial velocity). He performed a large and complete high-spatial resolution survey of the candidates to discard false positives. The radial vellocity follow-up allowed him to confirm several planets in different niches like the first planet transiting a giant star and the closest planet to a host star ascending the Red Giant Branch, Kepler-91b. He is interested in the evolution of planetary systems in the last stages of their lives and in the detection of minor bodies (TROY project). His instrumental interests are releated to the high-resolution spectrographs and high-precision photometry.

Hugo Messias

Hugo Messias is an ALMA Fellow since September 2016. He obtained his PhD in 2011 at the Universidade de Lisboa, in Portugal. He went on to Universidad de Concepción, in Chile, as an ALMA-CONICyT postdoc. Before coming to ALMA, he was a FCT Fellow at Institute of Astrophysics and Space Science (Portugal) since 2014, where he was also the Lead Scientist of the Portuguese ALMA Centre of Expertise. His scientific interest are mostly related to extra-galactic astronomy: galaxy and super-massive black-hole (co-)evolution; gas content and dynamics; galaxy growth mechanisms; IR-selected AGN; distant (sub-)millimeter/radio-selected galaxies; fundamental couplings variation.

Cyrielle Opitom

Scientific interests:

  • Small bodies of the Solar System
  • Comet properties, composition and evolution
  • Visible imaging and spectroscopy

Andrés Pérez Sánchez

Andrés F. Pérez-Sánchez is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA since June 2016. He graduated in Physics from the University of Antioquia, Colombia. Andrés earned his MSc in Astronomy from the Valongo Observatory-UFRJ, Brazil, and his PhD in Astronomy from the Argelander-Institute für Astronomie - Universität Bonn, Germany.

His main research interests are:

  • Late-type stars and the evolution of their circumstellar envelopes.
  • Molecular outflows, maser emission and radio continuum emission towards post-AGB stars.
  • Observational astronomy in (sub-)millimetre wavelengths.

Adele Plunkett

Adele Plunkett is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA.  She earned her PhD from Yale University in USA in 2015.  Her research focuses on protostars in clustered star-forming regions, especially quantifying the feedback provided from molecular outflows in these environments.  She aims to use multi-wavelength observations -- including from interferometers and single dish telescopes -- in order to probe the range of physical scales, conditions, and kinematics important in a scenario for clustered star formation.  

Personal home page

Elyar Sedaghati

Elyar Sedaghati is an ESO Fellow with duties at Paranal since August 2017, mostly responsible for observations with UT1 of the VLT.  Elyar received his PhD from Technische Universität Berlin, however the entire work was done under the supervision of Prof. Heike Rauer at DLR Berlin and Dr. Henri Boffin at ESO.  His doctoral research focused on detection and characterization of Exoplanetary atmospheres with the FORS2 instrument at the VLT.  His current research is in the same field of exoplanetary atmospheric studies, utilizing a variety of techniques afforded by the presence of a multitude of second generation instruments at the VLT, suited to exoplanet follow-up observations, such as ESPRESSO and CRIRES+.  Additionally he works with data from space-based observatories such as the HST, as well as preparation for exoplanetary observations with the JWST.

Scientific interests:

  • Exoplanets Atmospheres
  • Multi-Object Spectroscopy Techniques
  • Transiting Exoplanets

Personal home page



Romain Thomas


Scientific Interests:

  • High Redshift Galaxies
  • Intergalactic medium
  • SED fitting

Frederic Vogt

Scientific Interests:

  • Compact group of galaxies
  • Gas flows, star formation, galaxy evolution
  • Data visualization & integral field spectroscopy

Additional interests:

  • Chemical abundances, gradients
  • Young supernova remnants

Instrument expertise:

  • MUSE

Personal home page

Linda Watson

Linda Watson is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA since September 2014. She earned her PhD in astronomy from the Ohio State University in 2011 and then held a postdoc position with the Submillimeter Array group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Linda's primary research interests are the following:

  • Star formation and the interstellar medium in nearby galaxies
  • Connections between atomic gas, molecular gas, and star formation in bulgeless disk galaxies and galaxies with extended ultraviolet (XUV) disks
  • Galaxy evolution, especially by secular processes

Personal home page

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Fellows hosted outside ESO

Daniel Asmus

Southampton, U.K.

Paid Associates






Unpaid Associates


(LEA: Local ESO Advisor; S: Supervisor; HI: Home Institute)

Callum Bellhouse
(LEA: G. Hau
S: Sean McGee
HI: Birmingham Univ)

Callum Bellhouse completed his undergraduate Masters in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham School of Physics and Astronomy in 2015. He is now a PhD student of the same institution, studying at ESO for a 2-year studentship since October 2015. His research focuses on galaxy evolution and environmental effects, in particular ram-pressure stripping, studying low-redshift “jellyfish” galaxies with IFU data from MUSE on UT4 of the VLT to understand the hydrodynamic effects and their impact on the gas content and stellar population of infalling galaxies.

Jan Bolmer
(LEA: C. Ledoux
S: Jochen Greiner & Patrica Schady
HI: MPE & TUM, Germany)
Jan Bolmer is a Ph.D. Student from the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and the Technical University of Munich and currently on the 2-year studentship program at ESO in Santiago the Chile (since September 2016). He is studying dust properties, and its relation with e.g. metallicity and star-formation, in high-redshift Gamma-ray Burst host galaxies using GROND imaging and X-shooter spectra of the afterglow and the host. The big picture is an understanding of star-formation over cosmic time, especially in galaxies which are difficult to detect with other methods.  

James Leftley
(LEA: K. Tristram
HI: Southampton University, UK)

Working on:

  • Active Galactic Nuclei
  • Optical Interferometry (and Near IR)



Javier Minniti
(LEA: L. Sbordone

Working on:

  • Galaxy Formation and Evolution
  • Galactic Structure
  • Stellar Populations

Cesar Muñoz
(LEA: I.Saviane
HI: U.Concepcion)

Working on:

  • Globular clusters
  • Chemical evolution
  • High-resolution spectroscopy

Justus Neumann
(LEA: D. Gadotti
HI: Potsdam Univ.)

Justus Neumann is a PhD student from the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik (AIP) in Potsdam, Germany. He is currently working at ESO Santiago with a 2-year studentship since March 2016. His research interests are connected to the secular evolution in galaxies. He did his Master's Thesis on extragalactic bulges using data from the CALIFA survey, and is now working on star formation and stellar ages in galaxy bars with IFU data from MUSE.

Alessandro Razza
(LEA: J. Anderson
S: Guillermo Blanc
HI: Univ. de Chile)

Alessandro Razza earned a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics from Sapienza University of Rome and completed his master’s degree studies in astronomy at Stockholm University. He is currently a PhD student at Universidad de Chile, working at ESO for a 2-year studentship since August 2017. His research focuses on the interstellar medium in supernova host galaxies, in particular on dust properties at supernovae explosion sites, from AMUSING survey of galaxies observed with IFU data from MUSE.

Working on:

  • Supernova host galaxies
  • Extinction in SN environment

Alejandra Rojas
(LEA: E. Sani
S: I. Gavignaud

Alejandra Rojas Lilayú obtained her Bachelor in Astronomy and MSc in Astrophysics degrees at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), studying the nature of hard X-ray sources through optical spectroscopy and using the VVV near-IR survey.
She is currently a Ph.D. Student at the Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB, Chile), and joined ESO for a 2-year studentship since February 2017. Her research focused on the hard X-ray selected AGN properties, specifically on AGN outflows and the connection between the AGN activity and the star formation in the host galaxy.

Alejandro Santamaria-Miranda
(LEA: I. de Gregorio
HI: U. Valparaiso)

Alejandro Santamaria Miranda obtained her Bachelor in Physics and MSc in Astrophysics degrees at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), studying the star formation histories of bulges at low redshift.
He is currently a Ph.D. Student at the Universidad de Valparaíso (UV, Chile), and joined ESO for a 2-year studentship since February 2017. His research focused on the accretion processes in protoplanetary disks and proto-brown dwarfs.

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