Exoplanets & Exploring
Hi! I am an astrophysicist hunting for habitable(?) exoplanets.
What's my story? I am the European Space Agency (ESA) Project Scientist & Mission Representative for the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS), and science team member of several other ground- and space-based missions (TESS, SPECULOOS, ASTEP, and NGTS). My base is the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. I am fascinated by our quest to find Earth-sized exoplanets around small stars, and the big question of how stellar flares impact their habitability. Whenever I am not searching for new worlds, I enjoy exploring our own Earth, travelling, and the outdoors (scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking).
What did I do before that? Previously, I was an ESA Research Fellow at ESTEC, and a Juan Carlos Torres Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I obtained my PhD working with Nobel-Laureate Professor Didier Queloz at the University of Cambridge, UK. My research focused on how we can distinguish between real exoplanets and things that look like exoplanets, but are not (false positives). As part of the NGTS team, I helped with installing telescopes, developing novel algorithms, and hunting for Jupiter- and Neptune-sized exoplanets. Prior to that, for my Master’s Thesis, I had done something completely different: research in a biophysics lab at the University of Austin at Texas, USA. I developed a mathematical model to understand Drosophila models of genetic diseases like Alzheimer's and Fragile X. My underlying physics undergraduate education came from the University of Würzburg, where I also wrote a Bachelor's thesis on black hole mega-masers.
Expertise: Space- and Ground-based Telescopes, Exoplanets, Stellar Flares, Cool Stars, Habitability
Skills: Project Management, Bayesian Statistics, Machine Learning, Time Series Analysis
Oct 21, Engaging the public with our science projects at ESA and chatting with our very own astronaut André Kuipers!
Sep 21, First day at ESA! Having an office right next to original astronaut suits is preeetty cool.
July 18, Graduated from the University of Cambridge with a PhD in (astro-)physics.
Feb 16, Joined Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and German Ambassador Ammon for the Kurt Hahn Dinner in the German Embassy in London.
Oct 14, Started my PhD at the University of Cambridge. The first milestone of an exciting and long academic journey!