Scientific Committee

The scientific comitee evaluates science policy, as well as the new programs of UnivEarthS . Reflecting the different research areas of the Labex, the scientific committee is composed of French and international high-level scientists, chosen and appointed by the Executive Board.

Committee chairmanship

Georges Smoot, committee chair

George Fitzgerald Smoot III is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer with John C. Mather that led to the “discovery of the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation”. This work helped further the Big Bang theory of the universe using the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite.

Currently Smoot is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, since 2010, a professor of physics at the Paris Diderot University, France and since 2016 the Helmut and Anna Pao Sohmen Professor at Large at the IAS Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In 2003, he was awarded the Einstein Medal and the Oersted Medal in 2009.

Smoot was born in Yukon, Florida. He graduated from Upper Arlington High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio, in 1962. He studied mathematics before switching to physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he obtained dual bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics in 1966 and a Ph.D. in particle physics in 1970. Switched to cosmology and began work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, on the High Altitude Particle Physics Experiment, a stratospheric weather balloon designed to detect antimatter in Earth’s upper atmosphere, the presence of which was predicted by the now discredited steady state theory of cosmology.

Interested in cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), relating directly to fundamental questions about the structure of the universe, he developed a differential radiometer which measured the difference in temperature of the CMB between two directions 60 degrees apart. The instrument was mounted on a Lockheed U-2 plane.

Smoot collaborated with San Francisco Chronicle journalist Keay Davidson to write the general-audience book Wrinkles in Time that chronicled his team’s efforts.

After COBE, Smoot took part in another experiment involving a stratospheric balloon, Millimeter Anisotropy eXperiment IMaging Array, which had improved angular resolution compared to COBE, and refined the measurements of the anisotropies of the CMB. Smoot has continued CMB observations and analysis and was a collaborator on the third generation CMB anisotropy observatory Planck satellite. He is also a collaborator of the design of the Supernova/Acceleration Probe, a satellite which is proposed to measure the properties of dark energy. He has also assisted in analyzing data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in connection with measuring far infrared background radiation. Smoot also was a leader in a group that launched the Mikhailo Lomonosov in 2016.

Sotiris Loucatos, committee vice-chair

Sotiris Loucatos is a CEA senior scientist at the IRFU’s Particle Physics Division and at the APC. His research focuses on astroparticle physics, cosmic neutrinos and cosmology.

During his physics studies, Sotiris Loucatos, who has always been interested in philosophy, turned to particle physics to understand the “why of the how”. He obtained his Ph.D. from Paris XI University in 1985. He then worked at the LEP accelerator, within the ALEPH collaboration.

In 1991, he joined the IRFU-DPhP, in CEA-Saclay, as a research physicist in a permanent position. He studied on physics simulations and particles detector, while also gaining interest on cosmic neutrino physics. As such, he worked within the NESTOR et ANTARES collaboration, and he is now involved in KM3NeT, the new generation neutrino telescope.

His activities naturally led him to collaborate with the APC laboratory teams. In 2012, Sotiris Loucatos finally joined them, and ended up supervising about thirty projects. Since 2015, he works on the QUBIC project, a millimetric telescope for the measurement of B-mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background.

Sotiris Loucatos occupied the position of deputy director at the IRFU-DPhP, of deputy director and then director of the APC laboratory. He is also a member of several international scientific committees.

Committee members

Liane Benning

Liane G. Benning is a German biogeochemist studying mineral-fluid-microbe interface processes. Professor of Interface Geochemistry at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the University of Leeds, focused on various processes that shape the Earth Surface: the nucleation, growth and crystallisation of mineral phases from solution and the role, effects and interplay between microbes and minerals in extreme environments. She is interested in the characterisation of these systems, developing in situ and time resolved high-resolution imaging and spectroscopic techniques to follow microbe-mineral reactions as they occur.

She won a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. Involved with the development of synchrotron techniques, establishing the mechanisms of mineral interactions in situ. She worked on the nucleation of iron sulphides, which regulate and control geochemical iron and sulphur in the environment. In 2014 Liane G. Benning was appointed Head of Interface Geochemistry at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and became a professor at the Free University of Berlin in 2016. At the GFZ she leads the Potsdam Imaging and Spectral Analysis Facility (PISA). Awarded the Mineralogical Society Schlumberger Medal and the Geological Society Bigsby Medal.

Maud Boyet

Maud Boyet is a CNRS Senior Research (Directeur de Recherche) Scientist at the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, Université Clermont-Auvergne, France. Her specialty is the field of trace element and isotope geochemistry with research interests in: chronology of early solar system processes, early silicate history of planetary bodies, evolution of the Earth’s mantle and mantle dynamics through time, techniques for high precision chemical and isotope analysis.

Maud Boyet is responsible of the Geochemistry group in the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans since 2015. She is one of the leaders of CNRS PNP program (National program of planetology) since 2014. At the international level she is councilor of the European Association of geochemistry and is in charge of organizing the 2021 International Goldschmidt Conference 2021 in Lyon (France).

Carsten Dominik

Carsten Dominik is full professor at the University of Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD in 1992 at the Technical University Berlin on the subject of dust-driven winds from Red Giants. After postdoc positions at NASA Ames and at Leiden University, he joined the Anton Pannekoek Institute in 1999. Between 2006 and 2014, he held a special professorship at Radboud University in Nijmegen. He is currently PI of a NWO TOP-1 proposal on planet formation in protoplanetary disks. Carsten is responsible for the Astronomy and Astrophysics teaching programme at the UvA.

Carsten Dominik studies protoplanetary disks, exoplanets and solar system objects. His goal is to understand the physics of planet formation processes that are happening in protoplanetary disks, and to link these processes to the planetary system architectures that are currently discovered. He focusses on dust particles in disks that can be observed by high-contrast, high-spatial resolution imaging from visual to submillimeter wavelengths, and studies how these dust grains grow into comets and planets.

Donald B. Dingwell

Dingwell’s principal research interest is the physico-chemical description of molten rocks and their impact on volcanic systems. He has contributed largely to the development of the new and expanding field of experimental volcanology. He has published ca. 440 papers whose impact is reflected in ca. 18,000 (ISI) to 22,000 (GS) citations and an h-factor of 65 (ISI) to 74 (GS). That research has also been recognised by numerous scientific awards, including the VIP GAC Medal (GAC), Day Medal (GSA), Peacock Medal (MAC), Bowen Award (AGU), the Otto Schott Research Award, Bunsen Award (EGU), the Viktor-Moritz-Goldschmidt Award and Abraham-Gottlob-Werner Medal (DMG), Mineralogical Society of America Award (MSA) and Gerhard-Hess Research Prize (DFG). He is a fellow of the IUGG, AGU, MSA, GAC, AAAS and an honorary fellow of the Societa di Mineralogia e Petrologia Italiana as well as a Gutenberg Research Fellow of the University of Mainz.

He is an elected member of the Leopoldina, the Royal Society of Canada, the Academia Europaea, and ACATECH. Dingwell has had honorary degrees of Doctor of Science bestowed upon him by the University of Alberta, University College London and UNAM (Mexico) and has been a visiting professor at Stanford, Caltech and Paris. He has held office in numerous national and international societies, serving for example as President of the EGU, and IAVCEI, Vice-President of Academia Europaea and Secretary General of the ERC.

He holds the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Guillaume Dubus

Guillaume Dubus is a research director at the CNRS. His research area is high-energy astrophysics, mainly the study of accretion flows and non-thermal emission mechanisms in compact binary systems, for which he has received support from the ERC. He is or he has been a member of several international collaborations (HESS, Fermi-LAT, CTA), director of the National High Energy Program, member of Section 17 of the CoNRS and of the Scientific Council of the PIR “particles and universes”, expert for the ANR and various international organizations (H2020).

After his thesis at the Paris-Méudon Observatory and Oxford University and postdoctoral studies in Amsterdam and Caltech, Guillaume Dubus joined the CNRS in 2002 at the Leprince-Ringuet Laboratory. He is currently working at the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble.

Fernando Ferroni

Full Professor of Physics at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) since 2018, at the University of Rome Sapienza till 2018, and President of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) from October 2011 to end of June 2019. He’s a member of CERN Council. Member of the Governing Board of Science Europe till end of June 2019 . He has focused his scientific studies on experimental particle physics, starting his research at CERN Laboratory where he investigated the nucleon structure functions from neutrino scattering and participated at the L3 experiment at the LEP accelerator (the one that preceded LHC in the Geneva tunnel).

In the early nineties he joined the BABAR collaboration as a visiting scientist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) working on the design, construction and operation of the experiment at the machine PEP2, a detector for the study of CP violation in “beauty” quark decays. Inside the collaboration he covered relevant responsibility roles such as executive board member, technical board member, physics coordinator and system manager of the muon detector. Since 2004 he is exploring the neutrinoless double beta decay with an experiment at the Gran Sasso Laboratories called CUORE and with an innovative project (Lucifer) on the same subject financed by the European Research Council as an Advanced Grant. 

He is the author of several hundred articles in scientific journals, he has served as member in numerous international scientific boards and chaired many committees in the field of high energy physics.

Anna Franckowiak

Anna Franckowiak is a staff scientist at DESY. She focuses her research on on multi-messenger astronomy, and particularly studies neutrino, optical and gamma-ray data. She obtained her PhD from the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Bonn in 2011, the latter awarding her for the best PhD in Physics and Astronomy. During her doctorate, she worked within the IceCube Collaboration on probing the connection of jets, Supernovae and Gamma-Ray Bursts using TeV neutrinos.

She later joins the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (SLAC) where she studied the morphology and the spectrum of the Fermi bubbles and searched for gamma-ray emission from Type IIn supernovae using Fermi-LAT data as a member of the Fermi-LAT Collaboration.

Since 2017, she is leading a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group at DESY Zeuthen. Their goal is to identify the sources of high-energy neutrinos in a multi-messenger approach combining IceCube neutrino data with optical survey data collected by ASAS-SN and ZTF and gamma-ray data from Fermi large area telescope. She also received several guest investigator grant from NASA’s Fermi telescope for projects in which she was PI or co-PI. Since 2019, she is also Analysis Coordinator on the Ice Cube collaboration.

Juan José Hernandez Rey

Juan José Hernández-Rey graduated in physics in the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, PhD thesis in the former Junta de Energía Nuclear, Madrid, on experiments studying production and decay properties of charm particles in the European Hybrid Spectrometer at the SPS accelerator at CERN.

He continued as a CERN Fellow in EHS experiments and at the Multiparticle Spectrometer of the fixed-target Tevatron programme at Fermilab, Chicago, USA. In CIEMAT invested in heavy quark physics and in computing for high-energy physics.

As Tenured Scientist of Spanish National Research Council at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics in Valencia, after as a project leader for scientific computing of in the DELPHI experiment at LEP, he studied the Z boson lineshape and couplings in the leptonic channels and worked on the search for supersymmetric particles at energies above the Z0 boson resonance (LEP 200).

Focused on the search for point-like neutrino sources and dark matter through cosmic neutrinos, co-creator of the first undersea neutrino telescope. Antares Deputy Spokesman. Interested in the application of artificial intelligence, deep learning techniques, he is a leader of the project to set up a GPU-based platform to perform AI and machine learning at IFIC Head of the Department of Experimental Physics of IFIC (1996–1999), Director of IFIC (2015-2019), Scientific Director of IFIC’s “Severo Ochoa” Excellence Centre project (2015-2019). He is a member of the Particle Data Group (PDG).

Catherine L. Johnson

Catherine L. Johnson is a Professor of Geophysics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson. PhD, University of California, San Diego, 2003. Her research focuses on geophysical investigations of planetary interiors and their surrounding magnetic field environments.

She has worked on investigations of the Earth’s magnetic field, the structure and evolution of the venusian lithosphere, magnetic studies of Mars and Mercury, and lunar investigations using data from the Apollo missions onwards.

She was a Participating Scientist on NASA’s MESSENGER mission, is a Co-Investigator on the InSight mission to Mars and the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid 101955 Bennu, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has received the Price Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Shen Kuo award of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy.

Augusto Neri

Augusto Neri received his Master degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pisa and his PhD from the Illinois Institute of Technology of Chicago. Since 2003 he is Research Director in physical volcanology at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Italy, and since 2014 he has the qualifications of professor of volcanology and Earth physics. Since 2016 he is serving as Director of the Volcanoes Department of INGV. Neri’s scientific career has been focused on the development and application of multiphase flow models of volcanic processes and phenomena, particularly pyroclastic density currents, volcanic plumes, ash dispersal and deposition and conduit flow.

Neri has also contributed to the quantitative assessment of volcanic hazards and risks at Italian and foreign volcanoes such as Vesuvio, Campi Flegrei, Etna, Mt. St. Helens, Soufriere Hills of Montserrat, Eyjafjallajökull, Santorini, La Soufriere of Guadeloupe, etc. He is author of more than 95 scientific papers and has been the PI of many international and national projects in these fields. In 2017 he has been awarded the Sergey Soloviev Medal of EGU and the Honorary Fellowship of GSA for his pioneering research in modeling volcanic processes and his effort worldwide to mitigate explosive eruption risks.

David Shoemaker

David Shoemaker is a senior research scientist in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. His research area is focused on instrumentation to enable the observation of gravitational radiation via precision measurement techniques.

In the late 70s, he worked on the COBE satellite FIRAS interferometer that measured the Planck Spectrum, and then moved to the interferometric detection of gravitational waves in the early 80s.

He spent a few years at Max Planck in Garching, Germany and the CNRS in Paris, France, developing specific technologies for gravitational wave detection, then returned to MIT in 1989.  Between 2006 to 2017, he led the Advanced LIGO Project. The team delivered detectors in March 2015 which, after commissioning and observing, enabled the first detection of gravitational waves in September 2015. In March 2017, he was elected for a 2-year term as Spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration As a member of the LIGO collaboration, he received the Gruber Cosmology Prize and the Rossi Prize. David Shoemaker is also a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Christine Thomas

Christine Thomas is a global seismologist at the University of Münster, Germany. She became head of the seismology group at the University of Münster in 2009, after a lectureship at Liverpool University and a postdoc at Leeds University, UK.

Her speciality is investigation of structures in the deep Earth using global seismic data, array seismology and seismic modelling of seismic waves, including amplitude and polarity variations. Her particular interests are the lowermost  mantle (D” region) and mantle transition zone, as well as the connection of seismic discontinuities and seismic anisotropy with mineralogy and geodynamics of the Earth’s mantle. Other directions include wind turbine noise, scattering in the Earth, seismology in mines and involvement in a number of seismic array deployments.