my ID


Gemini Observatory
670 N. A'ohoku Place
Hilo, Hawaii 96720, USA
tel +1-808-974 2645
fax +1-808-974 2589

Brief Bio

Since 2012, I am serving as the Director of the Gemini Observatory. Gemini is an international parternship between Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile and the United States, with headquarters in Hilo, Hawaii and La Serena, Chile. The observatory is operating two 8m-class telescopes - one on top of Maunakea in Hawaii, the other on Cerro Pachon in Chile.


I remain an adjunct Professor (Privatdozent) at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, where I have been teaching since 2005.
In 2015, I will be teaching as affiliated faculty at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.


From 2000 to 2012, I was a senior Faculty member at the European Southern Observatory. Since 2008, I was working as the Project Scientist for the European Extremely Large Telescope Project, and shared my time between project work and astronomical research.


As for my early careeer: I obtained my PhD in early 1997 from the University of Bonn, then moved (partly on a Feodor-Lynen stipent from the Humboldt Foundation) to the University of California Observatories at the UC Santa Cruz where I have spent nearly two years.
I came to ESO in late 1998 on a fellowship and moved on a faculty position in early 2000 to serve as instrument scientist. Over the next years, I worked on the instruments VIMOS, SINFONI, HAWK-I and KMOS before taking up in early 2008 the position of project scientist for the E-ELT.

Read more in my Curriculum Vitae (version 2014) if interested.


My main scientific interests are the formation and evolution of stars and star clusters, as well as the formation and evolution of galaxies - and the connection between these two, today and in the early universe.

I am a founding member of the MASSIV collaboration, aiming at tracing the mass assembly in galaxies since the earliest times.

Since a few years, I am concentrating on studying the existence and the role of intermediate-mass black holes, and how these link the two topics above. Our group is mostly observationally driven, but performs more and more simulations on specialised hardware.

Recently, I also became interested in Astrobiology and Exoplanets atmospheres.

I was involved in founding on the Garching Campus the IMPRS Graduate School for Astrophysics, and the Cluster of Excellence for Fundamental Physics Origin and Structure of the Universe.

Excellence Cluster

Between January 2007 and December 2009, I chaired the ESO Astronomy Faculty (about 80 members).

More details can also be found by scanning through my list of publications or list of referred papers. Or just contact me!


As an adjunct professor (Privatdozent) at the
Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, I have a light teaching load.

Since 2014, I am also an affiliated Faculty at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where I will be teaching in Spring 2015.

Current lectures/classes at the LMU and UH Hilo:

* LMU Sommersemester 2014: An Introduction to Astrobiology (P4/5.0.29)
* UH Hilo Spring 2015: Life in the Universe

Past lectures/classes at the LMU:
* Wintersemester 2010/2011: Astrophysical advanced seminar (P4.0.6)
* Sommersemester 2011: An Introduction to Astrobiology (P5.0.29)
* Wintersemester 2011/2012: Astrophysical advanced seminar (P4.0.6)
* Sommersemester 2012: An Introduction to Astrobiology (P5.0.29)

PhD/Master thesis topics under my supervision:

Please feel to contact me for Master or PhD thesis subjects.
The two areas of research I supervise currently are:
* Intermediate-mass Black Holes
* (Exo-) Planet/Moons atmospheres

[Jan 2013] I am currently unlikely to accept Master or PhD students.


On the project side

Between February 2008 and July 2012, I was supporting as Project Scientist the detailed design phase (B) of the
European Extremely Large Telescope Project, the next European giant telescope: a 1.2 billion Euro facility that promises incredible scientific breakthroughs.


On the instrumentation side

Between March 2000 and January 2008, I was active as Instrument Scientist in the
Optical Instrument department, the Adaptive Optics department, and last in the NIR instrumentation department.
I have acted as Instrument Scientist for the following instruments:
  • VIMOS, an optical multi-object and integral-field spectrograph
  • SINFONI, an adaptive optics assisted near-infrared integral-field spectrograph ,
  • HAWK-I, a near-infrared wide-field imager, and
  • KMOS, a near-infrared multi-object spectrograph based on deployable integral-field units.

I am still actively promoting integral-field spectroscopy, until recently through the Euro3D Research Training Network.


Last update, May 2014