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Michael West

Michael West

(ESO - European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere)

Michael West is 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 80 ESO staff astronomers, postdocs, and graduate students. Prior to joining ESO in 2007 he was Head of Science Operations at the Gemini South telescope and before that he was a professor of astronomy at the University of Hawaii for eight years. He obtained his PhD in 1987 from Yale University.

Michael's research interests include globular clusters, galaxy formation and evolution, and galaxy clusters at low and high redshifts. He is also active in public outreach and authored a general interest book titled "A Gentle Rain of Starlight: The Story of Astronomy on Mauna Kea." Additionally, he 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.


Karla Alamo

Karla Alamo

(Center for Radioastronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Karla A. Alamo-Martínez is a Ph.D. Student in the Centro de Radioastronomia y Astrofísica of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (CRyA-UNAM), working under the supervision of Dr. Rosa A. González-Lópezlira, in the city of Morelia.

In 2001, Karla began her undergraduate studies in physics with the motivation of becoming an astronomer. After completing her courses she choose an extragalactic topic for her thesis, studying the kinematics of the brightest cluster galaxies in more than one thousand clusters under the supervision of Dr. Heinz Andernach in the small town of Guanajuato. Since then, she has been interested in the formation of such big systems. After getting a Bsc. degree from Universidad de Guanajuato she moved to Morelia to complete a Masters in Astronomy at CRyA-UNAM, finishing in 2009.

Currently, Karla is doing a long term studentship at ESO Chile working with Dr. Michael West. She is studying the globular cluster systems of giant elliptical galaxies from images taken by Hubble in order to understand how galaxies formed.


Michael Gregg

Michael Gregg

(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 (IGPP/LLNL). 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 Bruce Partridge in Haverford'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.


John Blakeslee with son Kevin

John Blakeslee

(Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)

John Blakeslee is an Astronomer at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, British Columbia, where he studies all sorts of galaxies and star clusters using data from both the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based facilities. He also helps coordinate the use by Canadian astronomers of the Gemini Observatory 8-meter telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon, Chile. John currently represents Canada on the Gemini International Time Allocation Committee and serves on the Science Advisory Council of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, located on Mauna Kea. To date, he has been the principal investigator on five HST programs and a co-investigator on many others.

John was born and grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania. His interest in the peculiarities and aesthetics of nature was encouraged by his mother, who gave him his first astronomy book, Patrick Moore's Picture History of Astronomy. John attended the University of Chicago and worked summers at Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin and Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. He then obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on the problem of galaxy distances and studied the abundant star cluster systems residing within the centers of rich galaxy clusters.

Following postdoctoral fellowships at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and Durham University in England, he joined the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) project at Johns Hopkins University as a research scientist in October 2000. As part of the ACS Team, John worked on the data analysis pipeline for the ACS Guaranteed Time Observations program, comprising over 550 orbits of Hubble observations targeting objects ranging from the moons of Jupiter and proto-planetary systems to the most distant galaxies and quasars. His own research during this period focused on the properties and evolution of galaxy clusters over the age of the universe. He joined the faculty of Washington State University in 2005, before moving on to HIA in January 2008. John and his wife Pam have three children, Cecilia (13), Teresa (11), and Kevin (5; pictured above).


Rosa Gonzalez-Lopezlira

Rosa Gonzalez-Lopezlira

(Center for Radioastronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Rosa A. Gonzalez-Lopezlira was born in Mexico City. She was interested in astronomy from a very young age, and always liked best the first chapters of the standard geography textbooks at the time, that talked about the Solar System. After a detour studying economic and political history of Latin America, Rosa obtained her Ph.D in Astronomy from UC Berkeley in 1996. She held postdoctoral positions at STScI and Geneva Observatory, and is now Associate Professor at the Center for Radioastronomy and Astrophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the beautiful colonial city of Morelia.

Rosa is an extragalactic observational astronomer, and mostly uses photometric data in the optical and infrared wavelengths. She has worked on the relationship between dynamics and large-scale star formation in galactic disks, the dust content of galaxies, and stellar populations. She discovered the first stellar age gradient across a spiral arm predicted by density wave theory, and together with her Ph.D. student Eric Martinez she found several others, and further evidence that dynamics and star formation are related in grand-design spiral galaxies. She has also pioneered the use of surface brightness fluctuations of star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds to calibrate stellar population models, and to study the influence of AGB stars in unresolved, intermediate age populations.

Rosa has two children, loves opera and enjoys reading very much, especially Latin American literature.


Patrick Côté

Patrick Côté

(Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics)

Patrick 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.

Dr. Côté is the author of more than 100 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

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 Dr. van den Bergh's 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.


Michael Drinkwater

Michael Drinkwater

(University of Queensland, Australia)

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 Professor 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.