Prize Winners 2015
EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER MERAC PRIZES 2015
Theoretical Astrophysics: Dr. Michaela Mapelli
of the Institute for Astrophysics, Padova, Italy
Dr. Mapelli has made an eclectic contribution to theoretical and computational astrophysics. She has given original contributions to several topics, from the dynamics of star clusters and galaxies, to the reionization epoch, to the Galactic centre, to the study of stellar and intermediate-mass black holes. Although her work is theoretical and computational, Dr. Mapelli went at great length to compare her results with observational data and to make predictions for new and relevant observations.
Observational Astrophysics: Dr. Saskia Hekker
of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany.
Dr. Hekker has made ground-breaking contributions to the interpretation of stellar oscillations in red-giant stars. She was first to establish non-radial oscillations in high-precision time-resolved spectroscopy of these stars and played a key role to confirm such modes using CoRoT space data. She also contributed significantly to various breakthrough results on red giants from Kepler data, developing innovative techniques to analyse and interpret these data of red giants and planet-hosting stars.
New Technologies: Dr. Sylvestre Lacour
of the Observatoire de Paris, France
The work of Dr. Lacour lies at the crossroads of instrumentation and astrophysics. After an initial career in engineering, he graduated with a PhD in astronomy in 2007. Dr. Lacour is now the leading European specialist in pupil masking and pupil remapping observing techniques. These modes provide a unique combination of high contrast and high angular resolution that is key to studying the immediate environment of stars in all evolutionary stages. Dr. Lacour developed a complete pipeline to reduce the data that is now used in major astronomical facilities.