Science Staff

Name About

Andrei Tokovinin
Personal web page
I am interested in dynamics, physics, and origin of multiple stellar systems: binaries, triples, etc. Recent work includesspeckle-interferometry at SOAR and spectroscopic orbirs with CHIRON. I am also working on astronomical instrumentation and turbulence characterization (site-testing).

Alistair Walker
My science interests are mostly concerned with the nature of stellar systems containing old populations, such as globular clusters and dwarf spheroidal galaxies. Most recently I have been involved with the discovery and study of ultrafaint galaxy companions to the Milky Way and (possibly) to the Magellanic Clouds, from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the SMASH survey, both with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the CTIO Blanco 4m telescope. I've also worked on the astronomical distance scale, using Cepheids and RR Lyraes, and the study of RR Lyraes in globular clusters and the galactic bulge. My main support function is as Instrument Scientist for DECam, and leader of the group that supports DECam users. I am also interested in developing the case for the use of the Blanco and DECam as an essential part of LSST science operations, where DECam is used in real-time to "fill in" observations of a significant fraction of the LSST cadence.

Alfredo Zenteno
Postdoc Research Associate
Alfredo Zenteno received his PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 2014, and has since been a NOAO/CTIO post doctoral fellow. His interests include observational cosmology, galaxy clusters, galaxy evolution and supernovae type Ia. As part of the South Pole Telescope Collaboration cluster group, he has been involved in optical follow up, photometric redshift, and dynamical cluster characterization, while his primary focus is on the evolution of optical statistical properties of cluster galaxy populations. As part of the Dark Energy Survey he is interested in colliding massive galaxy clusters and their impact on galaxy evolution, and as a probe of standard cosmology. He is part of the support team of the Dark Energy Camera at the Blanco 4m telescope and as such he enjoys spending time on the mountain among the zorros and the stars.

Brooke Gregory
A low-temperature physicist turned into a astronomical instrument support scientist. Recently retired. Now interested in contributing to Education and Outreach for the Observatory.

Cesar Briceño
Associate Scientist
Research interests and expertise: Star Formation, young stellar populations, T Tauri stars, brown dwarfs, multi-epoch large scale surveys. My main area of interest over the past years has been observational studies of young stellar populations: star formation history, the Initial Mass Function (IMF), disk fractions and characteristics, spectroscopic indicators of youth, multiplicity, and how these change with age or environment. With my colleagues, we have pioneered the use of large scale variability surveys to identify populations of low-mass pre-main sequence (PMS) stars at the critical ~4-10 Myr age range, when important stages in the planet formation process take place (e.g. Briceño et al. 2001, Science, 291, 93). Such ¨older¨ PMS stars have been difficult to find in the past because they span large areas with little or no extinction, were the parent clouds have dissipated and no longer serve as markers of their location.

Robert Chris Smith

David J. James
Associate Astronomer
My primary science drivers are through conducting wide-field photometric and spectroscopic surveys of Galactic open clusters with the goal of investigating stellar evolution in terms of rotation and internal mixing. I also investigate how to measure the ages of stars using isochrone fitting, lithium abundances, and rotation (gyrochronology). Moreover, I also pursue the detection and characterization of bright extra-solar planets, combining planet-hunting with stellar evolution to contribute the NASA's TESS mission; In terms of instrumentation, I have built small exoplanet-hunting telescopes as well as various calibration systems (eg., DECal and aTmCam for the Dark Energy Camera), as well as serving as Project Scientist for ARCoIRIS, a new imaging spectrograph on the Blanco telescope. I am the co-PI grant-holder of the Observatory's Research Experience for Undergraduates [REU] award from the National Science Foundation.

Karianne Holhjem
Postdoc Research Associate

Katherina Vivas
Associate Astronomer
My main field of research is the structure and formation of the Milky Way. I have been using RR Lyrae stars as tracers of the old population of the Galaxy to identify stellar streams in the halo, which may be interpreted as debris from small galaxies that merged with the Milky Way a long time ago. I am also interested in studying the population of variable stars in the dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way. Lately, I have been involved in studying the impact on Galactic science cases of different cadence scenarios for the LSST project. I am part of the DECam support team.

Malcolm Smith
Malcolm Smith's webpage
I am currently an Astronomer (officially half time) at CTIO with some special responsibilities (at local and international level) for controlling light pollution. Please see my webpage if you want more details.

Nicole van der Bliek
NOAO South/CTIO Deputy Director
IR astronomer interested in young stars, star formation regions and Herbig Ae/Be stars. However, last years mostly dedicated to management. Currently leading the NOAO-S Facilities Operations department, responsible for all infrastructure on Cerro Tololo, Cerro Pachón and in the AURA recinto in La Serena.

Stephen Heathcote
NOAO South/CTIO Director

Sean Points
Sean Points' Web Page
My science interests are the physical structure and evolution of the interstellar medium in galaxies and stellar energy feedback and mass-loss from stars into the interstellar medium. My main service role is as Instrument Scientist for the Goodman spectrograph at the SOAR telescope and the COSMOS spectrograph on the Blanco telescope. I am also interested in using the spectroscopic capabilities at SOAR and the Blanco for LSST follow-up observations.

Tim Abbott
Scientist (V. Blanco Telescope Scientist)
My personal homepage
Apart from a break of 3 years running the Engineering and Technical Services group for the installation of DECam, I have been the Blanco Telescope Scientist since 2002. I am one of those bizarre people who is happiest when worrying that something (there is always something) is not working right, finding the problem, and then fixing it. My science has historically orbited cataclysmic variables and now, thanks to DES, I get to claim I also do observational cosmology which gets fewer blank looks at parties. Oh, and I hate my mugshot.