Invited Speakers

Herewith please find the list of invited speakers who presented at Texas 2017.

Herewith please find a link to all speaker presentations.



Prof. Alex Filippenko
Professor of Astronomy University of California, Berkeley

Alex Filippenko, an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. He is the recipient of numerous prizes for his scientific research, and he was the only person to have been a member of both teams that revealed the Nobel-worthy accelerating expansion of the Universe. Voted the “Best Professor” at U.C. Berkeley a record 9 times, he was named the U.S. National Professor of the Year in 2006.

Topic: Dark Energy 100 years after “Einstein’s Biggest Blunder"

Dr. Diego Harari
Principal Researcher,  Centro Atómico Bariloche – CNEA/CONICET

Ph.D in Physics, University of Buenos Aires (1984). Principal Researcher of CONICET (National Research Council) at Centro Atómico Bariloche, Argentina. Associate Professor at Instituto Balseiro. Fields of interest: Astroparticle physics and cosmology, ultra-high energy cosmic rays, cosmic microwave background polarization. Member of the Pierre Auger and QUBIC Collaborations.

Topic: Footprints of gravitational waves in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background

Dr Emily Petroff
Postdoctoral Researcher,  ASTRON

Dr Emily Petroff is a postdoctoral researcher at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Her research focuses on fast radio bursts (FRBs): short-duration astrophysical transients of unknown origin. Her current work includes studies of the growing FRB population and designing surveys with large radio telescopes to find new fast radio bursts, including the Westerbork Telescope in the Netherlands and the Parkes telescope in Australia. Emily completed her PhD in Astrophysics in 2015 at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

Topic: Fast Radio Bursts

Dr. Erin Kara
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,  University of Maryland / NASA GSFC

Dr. Kara obtained her PhD in 2015 from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She is currently a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow and a Joint Space-Science Prize Fellow at the University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Her research is in observations of the inner accretion flows around black holes, primarily in Active Galactic Nuclei and Tidal Disruption Events.

Topic: Observations of Super-Eddington Accretion in Tidal Disruption Events and Ultraluminous X-ray Sources

Dr. Gabriela S. Vila
Assistant Researcher of the Argentinian National Research Council (CONICET),  Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomía (IAR / CONICET-CICBA)

Dr. in Physics by the University of Buenos Aires (2007). Assistant Researcher of the Argentinian Research Council (CONICET) since 2013. My research is focused on the modeling of non-thermal high-energy sources hosting compact objects. I have mainly worked on the development of radiative models for jets and coronas in X-ray binaries.

Topic: Relativistic Jets from AGN and X-Ray Binaries

Professor PhD Ivan De Mitri
Professor, Universita’ del Salento, Lecce, Italy and INFN Lecce, Italy

He started his career with MACRO at the underground Gran Sasso laboratory (LNGS), studying cosmic rays (CRs), atmospheric neutrino oscillations and searching for GUT magnetic monopoles. After a post-doc fellowship at LNGS within ICARUS, he joined the study of gamma-ray astronomy and CRs with ARGO-YBJ in Tibet. He is currently involved in AUGER, analyzing CRs at the highest energies, and DAMPE, measuring galactic CRs and searching for dark matter signatures with a satellite on orbit since December 2015.

Topic: Recent Advances in Cosmic Ray Observations

Dr Tana Joseph
Postdoctoral Research Fellow,  South African Astronomical Observatory

Dr. Tana Joseph is a postdoctoral fellow at the South African Astronomical Observatory. She previously held an SKA postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cape Town. Dr. Joseph completed her PhD at the University of Southampton in 2013. Her research area is extragalactic X-ray binaries, with a emphasis on low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). Her current research focusses on two projects: a search for black hole binaries in the globular clusters of the Virgo and Fornax Clusters and finding LMXBs in the Magellanic Clouds. This multi-wavelength research incorporates X-ray, radio and optical datasets from ground and spaced based telescopes.

Topic: X-ray binaries in the local Universe

Prof. Teresa Montaruli
Full Professor,  University of Geneva

My research, developed in Italy initially, then in Wisconsin and now in Geneva, is on neutrinos and high energy astrophysics. I worked initially on atmospheric neutrino oscillations and later on neutrino and gamma-ray astrophysics. I work in the IceCube experiment and on the construction of silicon based camera for Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes in CTA.

Topic: Astrophysics with high-energy neutrinos

Dr Yabebal Fantaye
AIMS-ARETE Junior Chair,  AIMS South Africa

Yabebal Fantaye was born and educated in Ethiopia. He completed his PhD in Trieste, Italy and did two postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in the University of Oslo, Norway, and at the department of Mathematics in the University of Tor Vergata Italy. Currently he holds the AIMS-ARETE Junior Research Chair at AIMS South Africa. Dr. Fantaye is a member of the Planck satellite consortium. His research interest includes understanding the statistical property of the Planck CMB maps and developing Machine Learning techniques for astronomical data analysis.

Topic: Testing the CMB isotropy with current and future experiments


A Prof. Gavin Rowell
A/Prof. Gavin Rowell,  University of Adelaide

My key interests are concerned with our Galaxy's extreme particle accelerators (e.g supernova remnants). Intimately related to this is the challenge to find gamma-ray sources created by cosmic-ray interactions with the interstellar medium. As a result, much of my research effort is devoted to gamma-ray studies of Galactic sources, and, surveys of the interstellar medium devoted to the forthcoming Cherenkov Telescope Array gamma-ray observatory

Topic: Ground-based gamma-ray astronomy

Dr Caprini

Dr Chiara Caprini
Researcher at CNRS (France) APC Paris

Chiara Caprini received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford (U.K.). After a postdoc at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and one at C.E.A. Saclay (France), she became a permanent researcher for the French Institution C.N.R.S. She is a cosmologist, and the main subject of her present research is to investigate the potential of gravitational waves to probe cosmology. She is the leader of the Cosmology Working Group within the consortium of LISA, ESA’s Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.

Topic: GW Sources and Cosmology


Professor Luke Drury
Director, School of Cosmic Physics Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Luke Drury obtained his PhD from the university of Cambridge, England, and subsequently worked at the MPI fuer Kernphysik in Heidelberg from 1979 to 1986. In 1987 he was awarded the Shakti P Duggal award at the Moscow international cosmic ray conference. Since 1986 he has been a senior professor in Dublin Institute for Advanced studies working mainly on particle acceleration theory, plasma astrophysics, and the origin of cosmic rays.

Topic: Astrophysics of Cosmic Rays


Prof Roy Maartens
SKA Research Chair, Professor of Cosmology University of the Western Cape, and University of Portsmouth

Roy Maartens obtained his PhD in cosmology from the University of Cape Town in 1980. He now holds the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Research Chair at the University of the Western Cape, and is also a professor of cosmology at the University of Portsmouth. Roy is interested in how we can use 3D maps of the galaxy distribution to probe the very early Universe, to measure dark energy and to test Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Topic: Cosmology with MeerKAT and the SKA


Dr. Parameswaran Ajith
Associate Professor International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore

Parameswaran Ajith is associate professor and Ramanujan fellow at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore where he leads the Astrophysical Relativity group. His research spans various aspects of gravitational wave physics and astronomy, including theoretical modeling of astrophysical sources, gravitational wave data analysis and observational tests of general relativity. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the head of the Max Planck Partner Group in Astrophysical Relativity at ICTS.

Topic: Gravitational Waves: The new frontier of astrphysics

Patrika Dayal

Dr. Pratika Dayal
Assistant Professor Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen

Pratika Dayal is an Assistant Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellowship at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute at the University of Groningen. Combining analytic theory, numerical simulations and data interpretation, her research focuses on building bridges between fields as diverse as theoretical astrophysics, particle cosmology and astrobiology. A core member of the Square Kilometre Array collaboration, she is leading calculations for the forthcoming era of 21cm cosmology. Her research group is currently supported by a prestigious European Research Council starting grant.

Topic: First light: the rise of galaxies in the first billion years


Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan
University Lecturer Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK

Dr Nikku Madhusudhan is a University Lecturer in Astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, UK. His research interests include understanding the atmospheres, interiors, and formation conditions of extrasolar planets. He is widely known for pioneering the theoretical modeling and inverse techniques for measuring atmospheric properties of exoplanets. His results have led to the first statistical constraints on various atmospheric processes/properties in exoplanets, including elemental abundances and using them to investigate exoplanetary formation mechanisms.

Topic: Chemical Characterization of Extrasolar Planets


Prof Hitoshi Murayama
Professor / Director University of California, Berkeley / Kavli IPMU, University of Tokyo

Hitoshi Murayama is a theoretical physicist who works on the connection between the physics of elementary particles and the Universe. In addition, he worked on a neutrino experiment and is currently leading a team of astronomers. He received his Ph.D. from University of Tokyo in 1991.He has been on faculty at UC, Berkeley, since 1995. Since 2007, he is also the director of Kavli IPMU at University of Tokyo.

Topic: DM and Fundamental Physics


Dr Shep Doeleman
EHT Director Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Shep Doeleman directs the Event Horizon Telescope project - an international collaboration to image and time resolve supermassive black holes on event-horizon scales. To do this, the EHT has engineered a global network of mm and submm wavelength observatories to create an Earth-sized virtual telescope. Doeleman is an Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University, and is Assistant Director of the Black Hole Initiative, an interdisciplinary center for the study of black holes.

Topic: The Event Horizon Telescope


Prof Kejia Lee
Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Research Interests:
Pulsar: Pulsar timing, Radiation mechanism, Structure of compact star, Pulsar observation
Gravity: Gravitational wave, Gravitational wave detection, Test alternative theories of gravity

Topic: Supermassive Black Hole Binaries Binaries and Pulsar Timing Arrays

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Ass. Professor Samaya Nissanke
Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Samaya Nissanke is an assistant professor in gravitational wave astrophysics at Radboud University, the Netherlands. For the past decade+, she has focused her research on the astrophysics of compact object mergers using gravitational wave and electromagnetic radiation. She is leading one of two gravitational wave groups in the Virgo Collaboration (working jointly with the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) in the Netherlands, and is part of the GROWTH collaboration.

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Jonathan Sievers
U. of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Jonathan Sievers is a research professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  His background has chiefly been in data analysis of cosmic microwave background experiments, including the Cosmic Background Imager and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope.  Since moving to South Africa, he has become increasingly involved in 21cm astronomy, and is PI of the Hydrogen Intensity and Real-time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX), and Probing Radio Intensity at high-Z from Marion (PRIZM).  PRIZM is the first astronomy project on Marion Island, halfway between South Africa and Antarctica, which possesses one of the most pristine radio environments on the planet.

Topic: Probing the Epoch of Reionization with HI Surveys