EPEC Profiles – Joana Marques Oliveira
In this series from the EPEC Communication Working Group, we meet members of the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) community and find out more about their experiences and aspirations.
Joana Marques Oliveira is currently studying for a PhD at the Paris Observatory, section of Meudon. She is using occultations to study the atmosphere of Triton, focusing on an event that took place on the 5th October 2017, involving over 100 observers with both small and large telescopes, spread throughout Europe, Eastern America, and Northern Africa. Her goal is to find if the atmosphere changed in any way from Voyager 2’s fly-by in 1989 until the 2017 occultation event. This work is supported by the Lucky Star project, an ERC grant, led by her supervisor.
Joana Marques Oliveira. Credit: J. Desmars
Joana knew that she wanted to go into astrophysics from a young age, when she watched a movie about a female astrophysicist working in NASA. At that moment she realised that, not only astronomy was a career, but she could pursue it. She had a teacher in elementary school that helped her find how to start her career in this field, and she completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in physics specialising in astronomy and astrophysics at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, where her focus was on extragalactic astrophysics.
During those years, she was doing outreach at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, in Lisbon. Being involved with the outreach program helped open doors for her, as well as teach her a lot about outreach and assembling small telescopes, a key skill for occultations. She has done quite a large number of outreach astronomical observing events, including one at a correction centre for minors, an incredibly eye-opening experience. She has even helped organise four conferences thanks to this, and in two of which she was part of the Local Organising Committee (LOC).
She got involved with the Occultations group, through her outreach work. She was interested in the topic, and she decided to work with the scientist in charge of the group on the last year of her Master’s, on a project to study Venus’s atmosphere, where she got to go to Hawai’i to help in an observation mission. They were accepted for a bilateral project between Portugal and France, the Program Pessoa, for the years 2017 and 2018, called OccultGaia.
After her Master’s, she applied for several PhD programs, and she was accepted by the Portuguese Science and Technology foundation to work on the occultation topic here in Paris. She is supporting EPEC as Chair of the Finances Group, and as a member of the Diversity Working Group.
Joana says: “Being part of a group of young researchers has been amazing. We all have different areas of focus within Planetary Science, yet, and we all have the same objective: to build a supportive and dynamic group, with great activities for everyone. I never thought I’d be involved with EPEC, and I feel honoured that they have accepted me to be Chair of the new Finances Group.“
More information about Joana Marques Oliveira:
Joana Marques Oliveira. Credit: P. Machado
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