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Luciana Bianchi

After enjoying studies in the humanities when growing up near Venice, Italy, Luciana Bianchi turned to the field of science to pursue her interest in astronomy, a choice she never regretted. She obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Padua (Italy) with maxima cum laude honors in 1978. Immediately after, she was granted a fellowship at the International Institute for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy, to continue her study on observational signatures of black holes. She took a position with the European Space Agency, then returned to her home country in Italy to accept a tenure position in 1983. Currently Luciana Bianchi is a principal research scientist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the Johns Hopkins University.

Bianchi has conducted countless observing projects with a variety of space instrumentation. Recently, she uses mostly the Hubble Space Telescope and FUSE, but she is also involved in the next NASA UV space mission that will perform the first sky survey in the Ultraviolet (GALEX - to be launched in May 2002). At the same time, she used several ground-based telescopes (as well as participated in developing and testing new instrumentation), in Chile, Italy, Spain, Arizona and Hawaii, from the classical old-fashioned telescopes to the current Very Large Telescope of ESO.

Most of the programs conducted by Bianchi are aimed at the study of hot massive stars and their powerful stellar winds, which play a major role in the evolution of galaxies, and thus hold a key to unlock the history of the universe. Thanks to the capabilities offered by today's most powerful instruments, such as HST and VLT, she is able to capture the secrets of these stars in galaxies outside our own Milky Way, thus in conditions different from our solar neighborhood. She also serves in a number of international committees and NASA panels.

Thanks to a tendency to ignore borders in the strive to pursue her scientific goals, she had the privilege of training outstanding young scientists from different countries, and enjoyed the collaboration of astronomers from around the world for many years, not an unusual circumstance in this unusual job. Currently in her group she has young people from the US, Italy, Spain and Romania.

The most important and most rewarding position yet that L.B. holds is that of mom. And - yes you guessed it - she never gave up her interests in arts and literature, as well as for music, biking and more, which she shares with her daughter. In her spare time, she shares her astronomy results with the public and schools. If you visit the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, you can try and make you own star and watch it evolve through its lifecycle, or understand how a satellite works, or become a spectroscopist - some of the ideas that she provided for the museum's permanent "outer space" exhibit.