Observational Astronomy; Evolved stars (including planetary nebulae); interstellar matter; astrochemistry; molecular spectroscopy.
I use astronomical (spectroscopic) observations to study the surroundings of dying stars and the interstellar medium. In those environments, we see a rich mixture of molecular gas and various dust grains. The aim of my research is to figure out the physical processes and chemical pathways that lead to these species. Since our discovery of "buckyballs" in planetary nebulae, much work has focused on understanding how these large and stable species form and evolve, and what other, related molecules may exist in space. A second large research program is the study of the Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs), a set of hundreds of mysterious interstellar absorption lines that are unidentified to date. We can derive a lot about the molecules responsible for these DIBs by careful analyses of astronomical observations.
Most of my research is based on observations from the UV to the radio with ground-based, airborne or space telescopes, but generally includes some theoretical work or a comparison with theoretical models as well, or uses advanced statistics or computational methods. A typical research project will combine astronomy, physics, chemistry and computer science. All research is part of large international collaborations, including with researchers from NASA.
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