Formation and evolution of galaxies, stars and black holes across cosmic time
I am an astrophysicist with broad research interests and expertise, studying primarily the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies in the infancy of the Universe. I am a heavy user of the Hubble Space Telescope, and have been awarded about three months of time (1400 Hubble orbits) to date as Principal Investigator on this multi-billion dollar facility, placing me within the top 10 users since 2001 (when large programs were introduced). In addition to observations of the most distant galaxies, I am interested in theoretical modeling and computer simulations of galaxy formation, in understanding the connection between Gamma Ray Bursts and star formation, and in the dynamics of self-gravitating stellar systems such as globular clusters.
Currently, I am an Associate Professor in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne. Before moving to Melbourne I was a Kavli Institute Fellow at the University of Cambridge 5yr prize fellowship at the lecturer (junior faculty) level from 2012 to 2014. I was born and educated in Italy, where I graduated from Italy's most selective and prestigious institution: Scuola Normale Superiore, shaped on the model of the French Ecole Normale Superieure. After the PhD (2005), I held postdoctoral positions in the USA at the Space Telescope Science Institute and at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Student projects at the level of Master of PhD are available in the areas of (1) nano satellite space telescope design and technical development associated to the SkyHopper CubeSat mission; (2) galaxy formation and evolution at high redshift (observations and modeling); (3) globular cluster dynamics and intermediate mass black holes (gravitational N-body simulations). Master research projects focused on the application of physical modeling to financial markets are also possible. Perspective students are encouraged to contact me to discuss more in detail.