(ESO - European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere)
Michael West decided to become
an astronomer after reading Carl Sagan's book "The
Cosmic Connection" as a high school student. He
obtained his Ph.D. in astronomy from Yale University
in 1987 and since then he has held research and
teaching positions around the world. He is currently
Head of the Office for Science in Chile at the European
Southern Observatory (ESO), where his responsibilities
include fostering a stimulating scientific environment
at ESO offices in Santiago and supporting the research
activities of an international team of about 80
ESO staff astronomers, postdocs, and graduate students.
Before that he was Head of Science Operations at
the Gemini South telescope and a professor of astronomy
at the University of Hawaii for eight years.
Michael began his research career as a theorist but gradually moved into observational work. His research interests include globular clusters as probes of galaxy formation and evolution, clusters of galaxies at low and high redshifts, and the large-scale structure of the universe. He considers himself fortunate to have been lead scientist on six HST programs to date as well as co-investigator on others including the large ACS Virgo Cluster Survey led by Pat Côté (HIA), the ACS Fornax Cluster Survey led by Andrés Jordán (CfA), and studies of galaxy destruction and intergalactic debris with Michael Gregg (UC Davis).
Michael is also active in astronomy education and outreach, as a way of giving something back to the public whose taxes fund our astronomical explorations. He currently heads a newly formed International Astronomical Union working group on New Ways of Communicating Astronomy with the Public. He also served as chief astronomy advisor for the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, a US $28 million NASA-funded museum that weaves together astronomy and Hawaiian culture into a unique story of human exploration. In addition, he is author of a general interest book titled "A Gentle Rain of Starlight: The Story of Astronomy on Mauna Kea."
(University of California, Davis)
Michael Gregg is a Research Astrophysicist in the Department of Physics at the University of California, Davis, but he spends most of his professional time at the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Michael started his career investigating the stellar population of relatively nearby S0 galaxies, showing that they may have evolved from spiral galaxies. This work spawned investigations of nearby galaxy clusters.
In collaboration with Michael West (European Southern Observatory), he is studying the galaxy destruction and reincarnation in various cluster environments. Most of this work depends on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. At the far end of the Universe, Michael has searched for gravitationally lensed quasars and more exotic types of active galaxies and quasars nearly buried by dust or having unusual radio-emitting properties.
Michael was born in Long Beach, California, but spent most of his childhood roaming the outdoors of Western Pennsylvania, where the skies are still dark enough to inspire appreciation of the heavens. An undergraduate double major in physics and philosophy at Haverford College, he worked for a summer with R. Bruce Partridge in that institution's antique Strawbridge Observatory. This led to further astronomical studies and a Ph.D. at Yale University where he was fortunate enough to get to know the late Beatrice Tinsley while generating the idea for his dissertation. He has since lived and worked in Pasadena, Chapel Hill, and Canberra (Australia), before beginning his longer term association with U.C. Davis and IGPP/LLNL in 1993.
(Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)
Pat Côté received his Ph.D. degree in 1994 from McMaster University. Following postdoctoral appointments as a Plaskett fellow at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA-NRC)in Victoria and as a Sherman Fairchild fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he worked as a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers University from 2000 to 2004. In 2004, he returned to Canada as a senior research astronomer at HIA. He is the author of more than 60 papers in the professional literature and is a frequent user of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the W.O. Keck Observatory and Gemini Telescopes, and the Very Large Telescope in Chile. His research interests include the study of dark matter, galaxy evolution, super-massive black holes, star clusters and galactic nuclei. He is the principal investigator of the ACS Virgo Cluster Survey, which used the Hubble Space Telescope to study the properties of galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster.
Sidney van den Bergh
(Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)
Sidney van den Bergh was born in Holland in 1929 and had decided that he wanted to become an astronomer by the time he was five years old. After attending Leiden University for a year he received a scholarship to attend Princeton University, where he received his A.B. in 1950. Subsequently he obtained an M.Sc. from Ohio State University and a Dr. rer. nat. from the University of Goettingen in Germany. The first half of his astronomical career was spent at the David Dunlap Observatory of the University of Toronto where he developed an interest in galaxies, star clusters, variable stars and supernovae. The second half of his career was spent in Victoria, British Columbia, where he became Director of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Now, in his retirement, he is spending most of his time on the study of galaxy evolution using images of galaxies at distances of up to ten billion light years that were obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope.
University of Queensland
Michael Drinkwater was born in the UK but completed high school in Australia and did his BSc degree at the University of Sydney. Then it was back to the UK again for his PhD on quasar clustering at the University of Cambridge.
His first job was at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada. Here he worked on quasar absorption line systems, dwarf galaxies, and the liquid mirror project. He also learnt to ski and speak French fluently. Following that, it was back to Australia as a Staff Astronomer at the Anglo-Australian Observatory. His observatory work focused on completion of the "second epoch" photographic sky survey, based at the UK Schmidt Telescope. For research he worked on dwarf galaxy studies in the Virgo and Fornax clusters using multi-object fibre spectrographs. This culminated in the Fornax Cluster Spectroscopic Survey project which led to the discovery of a new type of galaxy: ultra-compact dwarf (UCD) galaxies.
Michael is now a Reader and Head of Physics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. His research is in two main areas. He is still investigating the origin of the strange UCD galaxies now found in several galaxy clusters, and he is also Principal Investigator of the "WiggleZ" Dark Energy Survey, a massive four-year project on the Anglo-Australian Telescope which will constrain models of dark energy.
The image created from HST data from proposal 10558: M. West (European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO)), M. Gregg (University of California, Davis), P. Cote (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), S. van den Bergh (Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), and M. Drinkwater (University of Queensland).