Here you can learn about my science results
and interests, and also contact me.
My scientific interests are:
Star and planet formation, disk evolution
Exoplanets : formation and evolution in the Galaxy
Infrared and multi-wavelength astronomy
machine learning and computational bayesian statistics
Space data science
Bruno Merín’s Curriculum Vitae
Born in 1975, in Madrid, Spain.
Degree in Physics at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), in 1998.
Pre-doctoral stay at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, (Cambridge MA) in 2002.
Ph.D. Thesis at LAEFF and UAM, in 2004.
Post-doctoral Fellow from Fundación Areces at Leiden Observatory, from 2004 to 2006.
ESA Research Fellow at ESTEC from 2006 to 2008
Working at ESA since 2008, working as Herschel Data Processing Scientist from October 2008 to June 2015.
Astronomy Archives Science Lead at the ESAC Science Data Centre from July 2015 to March of 2018.
Head of the ESAC Science Data Centre, which holds all science data produced by ESA Science Missions, since March 2018.
I finished my Physics degree in the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid on June 1998, with a specialization in Theoretical Physics. After that, I joined LAEFF (“Laboratorio de Astrofisica Espacial y Fisica Fundamental”) of INTA, the Spanish National Technical Institute for Aerospace, where I did my Master and Ph.D. Thesis under the supervision of Prof. Benjamin Montesinos and Prof. Carlos Eiroa. The subject of my Ph.D. thesis was to study the evolution of the circumstellar disks around intermediate mass stars, the so-called Herbig Ae/Be stars, using data from the simultaneous multi-wavelength and multi-telescope EXPORT International Program at La Palma observatory, led by Prof. Carlos Eiroa, from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. The goal of this research was to analyze close-to-simultaneous optical to near-IR photometry and optical spectroscopy of moderately large sample of intermediate-mass Herbig Ae/Be stars to get information about the dissipation mechanisms of their disks, which could potentially give information about their potential to form exo-planets.
I defended my Ph.D. Thesis at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid on March 2004. During my Ph.D. Thesis I was lucky enough to travel to Morelia, Mexico, to have a collaboration with Dr. Paola D’Alessio, a world-known expert in the physics of protoplanetary disks and author of one of the best numerical models to physically reproduce the observations of such type of objects. After that experience, I was then invited by Profs. Nuria Calvet and Lee Hartman to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) to make what it was at the time the first public grid of circumstellar disk numerical models offered to the community for scientific analysis of the Spectral Energy Distributions of such objets. These two stages gave me a good visibility of how the cutting-edge science is done in the International context.
I was awarded my first postdoctoral fellowship by the Fundación Ramón Areces, in Spain, to come to the Leiden Observatory, in the Netherlands, to work with Prof. Ewine F. van Dishoeck (Leiden Sterrewacht, Leiden University) in the analysis of the Spitzer data from the large “Cores 2 Disks” Legacy program, led by Prof. Neal J. Evans, from the University of Texas at Austin (USA). During this period of time, I had the chance to learn about the data analysis of the images and spectra from the Spitzer Space Telescope and to observe at several world-class ground-based telescopes like the William Herschel and Isaak Newton Telescopes in La Palma Observatory (Spain) or the Very Large Telescopes at Paranal Observatory (Chile) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). I was lucky enough to even obtain open time with NASA’s competitive Spitzer Telescope to observe with the IRS spectrograph on-board Spitzer, a sample of c2d-selected transitional disk candidates in nearby star-forming regions. These transitional disks show signs of having evacuated inner holes in their disks, which are signposts of possible currently on-going planet formation.
After two years at Leiden observatory, I obtained an ESA Research Fellowship to work with Dr. Timo Prusti at the Research and Scientific Support Department of ESTEC, from the European Space Agency, at Noordwijk, in the Netherlands, and continued to work closely with the Leiden and c2d team members, given the proximity of ESTEC and Leiden. During that time, I also got involved in the testing team of the Mid Infrared Instrument MIRI for the James Webb Space Telescope, which took place at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford in the UK, and participated in the definition of the test plan for the Verification and Flight Models of the instrument. During this period, I also was co-director of the Ph.D. Thesis of Isa Oliveira, together with Prof. Ewine van Dishoeck and Dr. Klaus M. Pontoppidan, and member of ESO’s Observing Program Committee for two calls.
In October 2008 I joined the Herschel Science Centre, the science operations center of the Herschel Space Observatory, located at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) of the European Space Agency, near Madrid, in Spain. Here I was Data Processing scientist and chair of the Data Processing Users’ Group, a body that coordinated the user input and fed it back into the development plan for the Herschel data reduction software, called HIPE.
In July 2015 I became Astronomy Archives Science Lead at the ESAC Science Data Centre. My work in this group was to try to maximize the scientific use of ESA’s Astronomy science data archives and to contribute to the creation of new modern ways of exploiting that precious space science data. Back then I was also the Product Owner of the ESASky portal.
Since March 2018 I am the head of the ESAC Science Data Centre, in charge of developing and operating the science mission archives for all ESA science missions, including Heliophysics, Planetary and Astronomy missions.
I am coauthor of 108 refereed papers, which have been cited in another 5,133 papers. My H-factor is 46 and I am coauthor of one of the top-10 most cited papers in Astronomy in 2010, the Spitzer “cores to disks” c2d summary paper by Evans et al. 2009.
I referee articles for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Astrophysical Journal and Astronomy & Computing.
I have served as external reviewer for the NASA Origins of Solar System Programme in 2011 and 2013.
I served as member of the Observing Program Committee of the European Southern Observatory in Panel C during the periods 80 and 81.
I have reviewed science projects for the European Commission‘s FP7 and Horizon 2020 “Space” programme.
I have participated in several ESA reviews: JWST‘s MIRI Acceptance/Pre-Shipment Review AR/PSR in 2012, Euclid‘s Mission Requirements Review in 2014, Preliminary Design Review in 2015, Ground Segment Review on 2018 and Ground Segment Implementation Review in 2021, SMILE Science Ground Segment Preliminary Design Review in 2020, Bepi Colombo Mid-Term Review in 2021.
I was member of the Data Analysis Working Group, which was tasked at providing detailed recommendations on JWST data processing issues to the JWST Advisory Committee (JSTAC).
Outreach / Media
Since I joined ESA, I have participated in a numerous outreach initiatives, aimed at sharing the fascination of doing astronomy and space science nowadays with the general public. You can find me on Twitter and on LinkedIn.
Here you have a very incomplete list of outreach events I have participated to recently:
¿Estamos sólos en el Universo? Pint of Science 2023, Valladolid, España.
Some of these collaborations have been done in Spanish and amount to two articles in the top-audience general newspaper “El País”:
There is a good number of scientists working at ESAC who study star- and planet formation and on their connection with newly discovered exoplanet populations. The environment favors the interaction with planetary scientists involved in ESA’s mission to planets and other bodies of the Solar System and with Data Scientists interested in applying modern Machine Learning techniques to the wealth of high quality scientific data in our Science Data Archives. If you fit any of those groups and are interested to work with us, please, do consider applying!!
Antónia Vojteková, Shared Ph.D. student at UCL and at ESA on Sub-Neptune characterisation with CHEOPS and on the application of graphical neural networks and ExplainableIA to the simplication of the physical-chemical modeling of exoplanet atmospheres from new observations. She is based at ESAC, in Madrid.
Patricio Yael Reller, Shared Ph.D. student in UCL and ESA on Sub-Neptune characterisation with CHEOPS and ASTEP data and on Machine Learning applications to the light-curve analysis of exoplanet transit observations, in preparation for the PLATO mission. He is currently based at France.
Pablo García Martín, engineering lead at SAFRAN, France, and Ph.D. student at UAM (Spain) on Automatic identification of asteroids and satellite trails on HST images with AutoML, in Google cloud.
Fabrizio Giordano, senior software engineer at the European Space Astronomy Centre and Ph.D. student at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in FITS-On-Web advanced visualisation technology for Astronomical data, in Madrid.
Former ESA Research Fellows, Ph.D. students, Young Graduate Trainees and science trainees in our group:
Antónia Vojteková, former ESA Young Graduate Trainee on Astronomical Image Denoising with U-Nets and on recommendation systems for Astronomy data portals, at ESAC, in Madrid, now Ph.D. student on exoplanet atmospheric modeling with graphical neural networks, also at ESAC in Madrid.
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