I am an assistant astronomer (tenure track) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore (USA) and an Associate Research Scientist at The Johns Hopkins University. I work on the MIRI instrument of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest space telescope to launched into space in 2018.


I study different aspects of the debris disk phenomenon and transport and radial mixing in circumstellar disks, both in the solar system and in extrasolar planetary systems, using radiative transfer and dynamical models and observations. My interests include the statistical properties of the disks as derived from debris disk surveys (e.g. frequency, dust temperature/location, temporal evolution, debris disk-planet correlation) and the study of individual systems. Particular emphasis is given to debris disks known to harbor planets (including the interplanetary dust in our solar system) and disks with structural features, where the dust dynamics can unveil the presence of unseen planetary companions that would be difficult to detet with current planet-detection methods.  
 
 

I am also participating in the search for planets in protoplanetary and debris disks via direct detection carrying out a survey of approximately 200 disks, half of which are debris disks. I have also worked on the exchange of debris between our solar system and other planetary system, under current conditions (to assess the possibility of detecting extrasolar planetesimal entering the solar system), and when the solar system was still embedded in the birth cluster. The latter study uses chaotic, quasi-parabolic orbits of minimal energy that increases the transfer probability by many orders of magnitude and may have allowed significant quantities of solid material to be exchange between planetary systems, making lithopanspermia a viable hypothesis from the dynamical point of view. All these studies help us place our solar system into context.

 

I am also interested in Public Outreach and Science Policy, making the public and the policy-makers fully aware of the critical role science plays in their lives and the irreversible damage of indiscriminate budget cuts in R&D.

PREVIOUS POSITIONS

   Spanish National Research Council, Centro de Astrobiología (Spain) — Oct 2008-Dec 2013
       Ramón y Cajal Fellow (tenure-track)

   Princeton University, Department of Astrophysical Sciences (USA) — Dec 2004-Oct 2008
       Visiting Research Collaborator — Oct 2008-Jun 2014
       Associate Research Scholar — Oct 2007-Oct 2008
       Postdoctoral Research Associate — Dec 2004-Oct 2007
       Michelson Fellow — Sep 2005-Oct 2008
       Lyman Spitzer Fellow — Dec 2004-Oct 2008

   Max Plank Institute fur Astronomie, Heidelberg (Germany) — Sep 2004-Dec 2004
       Postdoctoral Researcher

   University of Arizona, Astronomy Department (USA) — Oct 1998-Aug 2004
       Research Assistant — May 2001-Aug 2004 and May 1999-Aug 2000
       Teaching Assistant — Aug 2000-May 2001
       College of Science Fellow — Oct 1998-May 1999

EDUCATION

   Ph.D., Astronomy; University of Arizona (USA) — 2004
   M.Sc., Astronomy; University of Arizona (USA) — 2000
   Licenciatura, Physics (Fundamental Physics); Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)— 1998