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


Henri Boffin

Henri Boffin is a Paranal Operations Staff Astronomer since August 2010. He obtained his PhD from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, in 1993, working on explaining chemically peculiar red giants, in particular Barium stars. Since then, his research is devoted to the world of close binary stars, their formation and evolution. To this aim, he combines both observational and theoretical work, including hydrodynamical simulations. He spent 2 years as a post-doc in Kobe, Japan, working on cataclysmic variables, and another 2 years in Cardiff, Wales, UK, in the Star Formation group. In 1998, he came back to Brussels, obtaining a permanent position as Senior Researcher at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. There, he organised the first international workshop on Astro-tomography. As he is very keen to share science with society, he also graduated from the 1st promotion of “Journalist & Scientist” at the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille, France. He has had experience in journalism and editing, and in 2003, joined ESO as Astronomer and Press Officer, dealing with communication about all telescopes and projects of ESO. He was member of the steering committee of the very successful Venus Transit 2004 Programme and of the EIRO forum Science on Stage festivals, and coordinator of the IYA 2009 Gigagalaxy Zoom project. His current scientific interests also include Am stars and binary nuclei of planetary nebulae, but more generally all interacting binary stars.

  • Exoplanets
  • Astrobiology
  • Binary stars

Personal home page

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.

Giovanni Carraro

Stellar Populations - Evolution of Galaxies and ISM

  • 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

Personal home page

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


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.

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.

Christophe Dumas

Christophe Dumas is a planetary astronomer at ESO-Chile, sharing his time between science operations activities at Paranal Observatory, where he is the Deputy Head for operations and instrument scientist for the adaptive optics integral field near-infrared spectrograph SINFONI, and his personal research, which consists to study the physical processes involved in the formation of planetary systems. Specifically, he uses high-contrast and high-angular-resolution observing techniques to investigate key-questions about the origin of our solar system (original composition of the solar nebula, how did accrete the first planetesimals, what is the role of collision in planetary formation?), which can find answers in the study of the most primitive objects it contains (comets, trans-neptunians, small satellites of the outer planets ...), as well as from the physical characterization of young exo-planetary systems.
Christophe Dumas obtained his PhD in 1997 from the University of Paris Denis-Diderot (France), after graduating as an engineer from "Supélec", the French "Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité". Priorly to joining ESO, he was a staff scientist at the NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California (USA) where he worked for 6 years in the preparation and development of space missions related to the NASA Origins program (Terrestrial Planet Finder, Space Inteferometer Mission, Astrobiology Explorer). He also worked at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawaii (USA) as a junior scientist during his graduate years.

Personal home page

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

Dimitri Gadotti

Dimitri Gadotti is an ESO Staff Astronomer since April 2013. Before, he was a fellow since October 2009. He has duties on Cerro Paranal and loves to work on the mountain! Dimitri obtained his Ph.D. degree at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2004, with a thesis on the formation and evolution of stellar bars in galaxies, using both spectroscopic and photometric data in optical and near-infrared passbands, as well as N-body simulations and analytical calculations. After his Ph.D. he spent 5 years in Europe at the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, France, and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany. His works focus on bulges of disc galaxies, barred galaxies, dwarf galaxies, supermassive black holes and AGN activity, comparing measurements of the dynamics and structure of stellar systems to theoretical models, and thus trying to understand how such systems came to be. He is author of the BUDDA code, a public available software to perform detailed structural analysis of galaxies.
His main topics are:

  • Pseudo-bulges, classical bulges and elliptical galaxies
  • Formation and evolution of stellar bars in galaxies
  • Supermassive black holes and active galactic nuclei

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Diego Garcia-Appadoo

Diego Garcia-Appadoo is an ALMA Operations Astronomer since January 2011. He obtained his Degree, Masters and PhD at Cardiff University in the UK, working on blind, HI surveys and the properties of HI-selected galaxies. After which he did a two year postdoc at the Radioastronomy Institute of the University of Bonn followed by 3.5 years as an ESO Fellow with duties at ALMA. His scientific and research interests lie on the gas (atomic and molecular) and dust properties of galaxies.

Julien Girard

Julien Girard is a Paranal Operations Staff Astronomer who joined ESO in 2009. Adaptive Optics (AO) specialist, he's the Instrument Scientist (IS) of VLT/NACO & and IS2 of SPHERE. He also coordinates the AO activities at ESO Chile, helping prepare/support the current/future AO facilities.  His main research interests are: star & planet formation, faint companions search and characterization (brown dwarfs & extra-solar planets and the disks where they usually form), close and dusty environment of young and/or massive stars, etc.  For that, Julien uses high angular & high contrast imaging techniques extensively, mainly in the infrared and from the ground. Also interested in the time-domain, he participates to campaign to measure extrasolar planet atmospheres via transits and occultations. He obtained a master's degree in Instrumentation Physics from the University of Utah in 2000, a 2nd one in Astrophysics (UJF/IPAG, Grenoble) the next year and his PhD in 2005 (UCBL/Observatoire de Lyon) for his contribution to the polychromatic laser guide star project ELPOA. Before ESO, he spent 3 years in Mexico City as a postdoctoral fellow at UNAM and as assistant professor at IPN. Julien enjoys participating to public outreach activities and is one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors

Personal home page

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.

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
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 support astronomer at the Very Large Telescope. He is the instrument scientist responsible for UVES, the Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph. His main research interests include the properties and evolution of galaxies as revealed by QSO absorption-line systems, the study of molecules and dust in the interstellar medium of high-redshift galaxies, the distribution 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.

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.

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.

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


  • 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

Antoine Mérand

Antoine Mérand received his PhD in Astronomy from Paris University (France) in 2005. In 2006, he moved to the CHARA Array interferometer (operated by Georgia State University, USA) to work on instrumentation developments and to complete observation programs he started during his PhD. In 2008, he joined ESO as an operation astronomer at VLTI, as well as instrument scientist of AMBER (2008-2010) and PRIMA instrument scientist (2010-2014), and is now acting as VLTI System Scientist (since 2012). His main reasearch interests are determining distances to Cepheids pulsating stars, determination of stellar fundamental parameters and instrumentation for optical interferometry.

Steffen Mieske

Steffen Mieske is the Head of Science Operations at Paranal as of July 2015. 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. He also works on photometric properties of extragalactic dwarf galaxies, such as their scaling relations and luminosity function. During his PhD time, he studied the shape of the Hubble flow in the "Great Attractor" region.

Personal home page

Francisco Montenegro

Francisco M. Montenegro Montes is support astronomer in the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) telescope. He studied optical astronomy in Tenerife (Spain) at the Universidad de La Laguna (ULL) and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and completed his Ph.D. working at the Istituto di Radioastronomia (INAF-IRA) in Bologna (Italy). His main research interest is the study of AGNs through multi-wavelength observations. In particular, he has worked on the characterization of the radio properties of Broad Absorption Line Quasars (BAL QSOs), which are quasars showing wide troughs bluewards the main UV resonance lines. The principal finding of these studies has been the similar properties found in radio sources associated with BAL QSOs and those young Compact Steep Spectrum (CSS) and GigaHertz-Peaked Spectrum (GPS) radio sources.  Since 2009, Francisco has joined the Science Operations group at the APEX telescope, where he has obtained extensive experience in the operation and maintenance of the APEX antenna, giving observing support, executing calibration and quality control procedures for its instrumentation (bolometers and heterodyne receivers) as well as developing operational procedures. He is responsible at APEX for the ESO data archiving procedures.

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.

Rodrigo Parra

Rodrigo Parra is Support 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 in Sweden. Subsequently, he received a PhD in Radio Astronomy from the Onsala Space Observatory in 2007. In addition to his expertise in single dish mm-astronomy, he has specialized in continuum and spectral line cm and mm wave interferometric techniques, particularly VLBI. He is deeply interested in the study of possible evolutionary connections between AGN and starburst activity. One of the guiding questions of his research is whether or not the 100 parsec regions of starburst activity seen in external galaxies are scaled up versions of galactic star forming regions. If not, what makes them different? He has studied star formation and AGN activity using cm and mm wavelength VLBI observations of large samples of galaxies as well as deep cm and mm wavelength interferometry of single objects. He also actively collaborates in several research projects whose topics include Interstellar Masers (OH megamaser galaxies and Hydrogen masers), dense molecular gas in star-forming regions and theoretical models of propagation of radiation in clumpy media.

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

Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Manuel Angel Perez Torres

Manuel Angel Perez Torres (a.k.a. Manuel Torres) is a VLT operations Staff Astronomer since February 2015. He graduated in Physics from Universidad de La Laguna (Spain) in 1998 and he received his PhD from University College Cork (Ireland) in 2004. Prior to joining ESO, he developed his postdoctoral career for 5 years at SRON, The Netherlands Institute for Space Research. Earlier and for seven years he was a postdoctoral fellow and staff at the  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge, USA) His research interests include:

  • Formation and evolution of black hole and neutron star X-ray binaries and Cataclysmic Variable stars, their Galactic distribution, kinematics and the nature of their stellar components.
  • The nature of Ultraluminous X-ray sources. Intermediate-mass black holes.
  • Mechanisms of accretion and outflow phenomena in different stellar and Galactic environments.

Stellar Structure and Evolution

Neil Phillips


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 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 and NTT instrument scientist and WFI and EFOSC2 support astronomer. Her research interests center on the dynamics and chemical evolution of galaxies and on compact groups of galaxies, as probes of the evolution of large scale structures.

Personal home page

David Rabanus

David Rabanus works in the ALMA Observatory in the Department of Engineering Services Group as Instrument Specialist. Earlier, he managed the Array Maintenance Group and Instrument Group. Before arriving to ALMA he worked at APEX, the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment http://www.apex-telescope-org, as Station Manager. Before arriving to Chile he participated in the development of the GREAT receiver, a collaboration between the Kölner Observatorium für Sub-Millimeter-Astronomie (KOSMA, the Max-Planck-Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) and the Institute for Space Sensor Technology of the German Aerospace Center (DLR-WS) on a heterodyne receiver of SOFIA. Ground-based receiver deployment of the SMART receiver and servicing at the KOSMA telescope on Gornergrat, Switzerland. Deployment of the receiver CONDOR (1.3-1.5 THz) at the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX). Development and deployment of a 490/810 GHz dual frequency receiver for the NANTEN2 telescope, Pampa La Bola, Atacama, Chile. Application of new THz quantum cascade lasers as local oscillators for heterodyne observations on SOFIA. Dissertation in the Institute for Space Sensor Technology and of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin-Adlershof. Topic: 'Development of a Modular Stressed-Ge: Ga Photoconductor Focal Plane Array Prototype‘. This is a far-infrared photoconductor array was developed for deployment on the US-German Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and forms the long-wavelength detector system in the spectrometer 'AIRES‘ based at the NASA Ames Research Center, California, in the US.

  • Solar System Sciences: Planetary Atmospheres
  • Millimeter/submillimeter Technology Development
  • Observatory Operations

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

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.

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 in several systems, and the dynamics and binary content in 30 Doradus using SINFONI. He recently found, together with his collaborators, that the IMF of the field stellar population in 30 Doradus is, within errors, consistent with a Salpeter law. In a recent project on the Arches cluster we reached a similar conclusion thus giving strong support to the hypothesis of universality of the IMF.  On a larger scale he is interested in the intergalactic light in clusters of galaxies. In the course of this research discovered with his collaborators an interesting S-shaped gravitational arc, an image of which can be seen in his personal web page. On a theoretical side he is interested in the dynamics of gravitational systems with particular attention to the phenomenon of dynamical friction. He is currently involved in an n-body simulation study of the stability of star clusters as a function of the mass of its heaviest star.
As an observatory astronomer, he has been instrument scientist for the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at La Silla, and he is currently at Paranal as instrument scientist for HAWK-I, VIMOS, and OmegaCam. Part of his technical work include the development of techniques that permit the determination of zero point correction maps in imaging instruments.
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

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.

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Massimo Tarenghi

Astronomer Emeritus




Karl Torstensson

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

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Evolution of Galaxies and the ISM

Eric Villard

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


Catherine Vlahakis

Catherine Vlahakis is a Commissioning Scientist at ALMA. She received her PhD in 2005 from Cardiff University in the UK, working on the SCUBA Local Universe Galaxy Survey. She was then a postdoc at the University of Bonn, Germany, at Leiden University, The Netherlands, and an ALMA Early Science Fellow at Universidad de Chile. Her main area of research is the study of the properties of the molecular and dusty interstellar medium, using observations at (sub)millimetre and far-infrared wavelengths.

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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.


Rebeca Aladro


Rebeca Aladro is an ESO fellow with duties in ALMA since October 2012. She carried out her PhD thesis at the IRAM 30m telescope, where she also worked as astronomer on duty. Her research focuses on the characterization of the molecular gas in galaxy nuclei, and how the chemical composition in those central regions is related to the physical properties of different type of galaxies, such as AGNs, starbursts, or ULIRGs.

Daniel Asmus

Daniel Asmus is an ESO fellow with duties at Paranal observatory since August 2014. He is also the instrument fellow for VISIR. Daniel received his PhD in astrophysics at the university of Kiel, Germany, in 2012 in the accretion physics group of Wolfgang Duschl. Before, he was an ESO student in Chile between 2009 and 2011 working with Alain Smette. He studies nearby galaxies and their active galactic nuclei (AGN), mainly in the mid-infrared with ground-based high-angular resolution instruments like VLT/VISIR and VLTI/MIDI. Goal of these studies is to obtain a better understanding of the circum-nuclear structures and processes, in particular dust emission and absorption.

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Joseph Anderson

Joseph Anderson is an ESO fellow with duties in Paranal Observatory since October 2013. 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. After his thesis, Joseph moved to a postdoctoral position at the Universidad de Chile, Chile, working with Mario Hamuy. His main research interests are: supernova progenitors and constraints from host environments; core-collapse supernovae light-curves and spectra; supernovae host galaxies.

Steve Ertel

Steve Ertel is an ESO fellow with duties at Paranal observatory since November 2013. He received his diploma in physics from the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 2008. Since the work on his PhD thesis at the University of Kiel, Germany, he focusses his research on the modeling and observation of debris disks. Since then, he is an active contributer to the Herschel Open Time Key Project DUNES. After receiving his PhD early 2012, he joined the EXOZODI team (French ANR project) in Grenoble as a post-doc. Here, he focussed his research on hot dust around main sequence stars (exozodiacal dust) in addition to continuing his work on debris disks. He led the observations for the first near-infrared interferometric survey for exozodiacal dust around southern stars using VLTI/PIONIER. As a fellow at ESO he continues his research on both the modeling and observations of debris disks and exozodiacal dust.

Oscar Gonzalez

Oscar Gonzalez is an ESO fellow with duties in Paranal Observatory since October 2012. He carried out his PhD thesis at ESO Germany and obtained his PhD in 2012 from the Ludwig Maximillians Universitaet in Munich. His research interests include Galaxy formation and evolution, stellar abundances and interstellar extinction. He is primarily focused on the study of the Milky Way bulge.

Lizette Guzman-Ramirez

Stellar structure and evolution


  • Planetary Nebulae formation and evolution
  • Dust formation in evolved stars
  • PAHs formation and evolution in evolved stars

Xavier Haubois

Xavier Haubois is an ESO fellow with duties at Paranal Observatory 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. After one year of teaching and research at Observatoire de Paris in 2013, Xavier continues his works at ESO on evolved stars and to the forthcoming operation of GRAVITY.

Tracey Hill

Tracey completed her PhD at the University of NSW in Sydney, Australia. She then moved to Europe where she undertook postdocs in Leiden, the Netherlands - with the Dutch ALMA Region Centre node, and then in Exeter, England. More recently Tracey completed a Marie Curie Eurotalents Fellowship hosted at the CEA in Saclay (France) in which she was working on Herschel data from the HOBYS (Motte et al.) key program.
Tracey’s research is in the area of high mass star formation. She has undertaken large- scale millimeter and submilllimetre continuum and spectral line studies in search of high–mass protostars, the progenitors of high –mass star formation. More recently, she has focused on cloud structure (with Herschel) to study interstellar filaments (where most star formation takes place) and identified high-column density ridges, which appear to be the preferential sites of high mass stars. She also showed that these ridges have similar properties as low-mass star-forming filaments testing hypotheses regarding thresholds for star formation. She has also studied the impact of OB clusters on high- mass star formation, in particular on how nearby clusters can affect the evolutionary status of nearby cores.

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.

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Tomasz Kaminski

Tomasz (Tomek) Kaminski is an ESO fellow with duties at ALMA and APEX. He joined ESO in October 2014 after a four-year postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, in Bonn, Germany. He has been supporting observations at APEX since 2008. He received PhD in 2010 at Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre (Toruń/Warsaw, Poland). Tomek's main research activities focus on observational aspects of stellar mergers -- in particular, he studies the so-called 'red novae' or 'red transients' (e.g. V838 Mon, V1309 Sco, V4332 Sgr, CK Vul, etc) and their link to stellar coalescence. He is also interested in formation and processing of dust grains near cool evolved objects such as red supergiants and AGB stars. Most of the studies he has been involved in use molecular spectroscopy at high resolutions, from UV to radio wavelengths, as the main tool to study circumstellar material.

Thomas Kruehler

Thomas Kruehler got his PhD from the Technical University of Munich and the Max-Planck-Institute for extraterrestrial physics in 2009. After that, he moved to the DARK Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen as a Marie-Curie Fellow and joined ESO in 2013 as a fellow with duties in Paranal. His main scientific interests are Gamma Rays Bursts (GRBs), their relation to star-forming galaxies and use as probes of the high-redshift Universe.

Julien Milli

Julien Milli graduated from the Paris/Meudon observatory and started in 2011 a joint PhD between the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble and ESO in Santiago. He has been since November 2014 a fellow at ESO with duties in Paranal, on UT3. 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.

André Mueller

André Mueller is an ESO fellow with duties in Paranal Observatory since September 2012. He carried out his PhD thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and received his PhD in 2012 at the University of Heidelberg (Germany) investigating the properties of Herbig Ae/Be stars. His scientific interest lie in young stellar objects such as Herbig Ae/Be and T Tauri stars. Besides searching for extrasolar planets and (sub-)stellar companions around these stars he determines their stellar parameters and characterize their activity behaviour (photospheric phenomena, accretion) using mainly optical and NIR high-resolution spectroscopy. He is also interested in disk studies using NIR and MIR interferometric data.

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Juan Carlos Muñoz


Juan Carlos Muñoz Mateos is an ESO Fellow with duties in Paranal since August 2013. 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.

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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

Roger Wesson

Roger Wesson is a fellow at ESO with duties at the Paranal Observatory. He obtained his PhD from University College London in 2004. He then tried out a different career and spent some time working for the UK Civil Service, before returning to astronomy in 2006.  His research is primarily concerned with the late stages of stellar evolution, looking at supernovae and their progenitors to determine how cosmic dust forms in these objects, and also improving and refining the techniques used to determine the abundances of heavy elements in planetary nebulae.

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Bin Yang

Bin Yang joined ESO as a science fellow with duties at the VLT in November 2013. She received her PhD from the University of Hawaii in 2009, where she studied the physical properties of Solar System small bodies using various facilities atop Mauna Kea. Before coming to ESO, She was working as an Astrobiology fellow at the NASA Astrobiology institute in Hawaii. Her main interests include the primitive bodies of the Solar System, planet formation and Astrobiology.

Fellows hosted outside ESO

Koraljka/Kora Muzic

UDP - Universidad Diego Portales (4th year)

Javier A. Rodón
ESO/Garching (4th year)                                                                                        

Paid Associates




Karl Torstensson

Scientific interests:

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

Unpaid Associates

Paul Elliott

From Exeter University, U.K.

Planets and star formation

  • Pre-main sequence binaries
  • Statistics of multiplicity within stellar populations
  • Star formation

Ahmed Shokry Elshaer

PhD student from National Research Institute of Astronomy & Geophysics/NRIAG, Egypt


  • Stellar structure and evolution
  • B/Be stars
  • Photometric observations

João Victor Sales Silva

João Victor Sales Silva is a post-doc at ESO since November 2014. He obtained his PhD in astronomy at the Observatório Nacional/Brazil in September 2014 analyzing of chemical abundances of red giant stars in Open Clusters. He has a bachelor degree in physics concluded in 2008 at the Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Brazil, and a master degree in astronomy concluded in 2010 at the Observatório Nacional, Brazil. In his master thesis he worked on the spectroscopic analysis of chemically peculiar stars, like Barium stars. His main research interests are: the stellar evolution, evolution and structure of the Galaxy, open clusters and binary stars.
Arthur Vigan

Scientific interests:

  • High-contrast instrumentation 
  • Direct imaging of exoplanets


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

Juan Carlos Beamin

(LEA: V. Ivanov
S: Dante Minniti
HI: PUC, Chile)

Scientific interests:

  • Nearby stars
  • Brown dwarfs
  • Galactic structure
Claudia Gutierrez
(LEA: C. Martayan
S: Mario Hamuy
HI: U Chile)

Scientific interests:

  • Spectral analysis of Type II Supernovae
  • Spectral diversity and correlations with photometric properties
  • Metallicity estimation from SNII and SN Progenitors

Michaël Marsset
(LEA: C. Dumas
S: Pierre Vernazza
HI: LAM, Marseille)

Michaël Marsset is a PhD student at ESO/Santiago since November 2013. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Brittany (France) and his Master’s degree from the University of Montreal (Canada). He is now supervised in Chile by Christophe Dumas, Head of Scientific Operations at Paranal, and in France by Pierre Vernazza, CNRS astronomer. He is working on the different populations of small bodies of the outer solar system (asteroids, comets, TNOs, Trojans…) and the link between these populations.

Jorge H. C. Martins
(LEA: C. Melo
S: Pedro Figueira, Nuno Santos
HI: IA-Porto, Portugal )

Jorge Martins is a PhD Student from the Institute of Astronomy and Space Sciences (IA-Porto) currently on a 2-year studentship at ESO Chile since January 2015. He completed his undergrad and master studies in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (Portugal). His research interests lie mainly on the detection of reflected visible light from exoplanets using high resolution spectroscopy. He works under the supervision of Claudio Melo at ESO and of Pedro Figueira and Nuno Santos at IA-CAUP.

  • Exoplanets
  • Exoplanet atmospheres
  • High resolution spectroscopy

Planets and Star Formation

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Luca Matrà
(LEA: B. Dent
S: Mark Wyatt,
Olja Panić
: U Cambridge, UK)

Luca Matrà is a Ph.D. student from the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK currently on a 1-year studentship at ESO Chile since August 2014. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland in 2013. His research mainly focuses on the detection and characterisation of gas around debris disks, particularly through mm/sub-mm observations and modelling of CO emission with ALMA and its predecessors. He works under the supervision of Bill Dent at ALMA, and of Mark Wyatt and Olja Panić at Cambridge.



Elyar Sedaghati

(LEA: H. Boffin
S: Heike Rauer
HI: DLR-Institut, Berlin)
Elyar Sedaghati completed his Bachelor's degree at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University.  He did his Master's degree at the Freie Universität Berlin, with the thesis written at the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) also in Berlin.  This was a one-year project, under the supervision of Petr Kabath, reducing transit observations of GJ1214b from the FORS2 instrument on the VLT, and critically analysing the impact of all possible parameters influencing the precision of the final transmission spectrum produced for the purpose of atmospheric detection.  He started a 2 year studentship program at ESO in October 2014, as part of his PhD research being undertaken at the DLR, Berlin.  His research focuses on the transmission spectroscopy of exoplanets in the mini-Nuptune and super-Earth regime using mainly the FORS2 instrument on UT1 of the VLT.

Matthew Taylor
(LEA: S. Mieske
S: Thomas Puzia
: PUC, Chile)

Matt Taylor did his undergraduate work at the University of Victoria (UVic) in British Columbia, Canada and is currently a PhD student at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) in Santiago. His work at UVic was varied, including convective mixing in TP-AGB stars, the orbital parameter distributions of Kuiper Belt objects, and the chemo-dynamical properties of massive, compact star clusters around the nearby galaxy Centaurus A, with a focus on the latter. Matt is continuing his work at PUC under the supervision of Thomas Puzia, and at the ESO offices in Santiago with Steffen Mieske. He hopes to place strong constraints on the formation history of Centaurus A through a deep, wide survey of its star cluster system, resident dwarf galaxies, and tidal features.

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