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Space in your Living Room

Space Professionals

Anne Baak

My name is Anne and I am a 20-year-old Dutch astronomy student at Leiden University. I have always been fascinated by our Universe. Learning how to solve the big questions and doing some small research projects is really cool. Besides my studies, I give tours in the Old Leiden Observatory. I also like to play sports, go out with friends and work in a cocktail bar!


Callum Griffiths

Hi, my name is Callum and I am an astrophysics student from the UK. I study at Leiden University and work at a clothing shop as well. I spend most of my time either thinking about planets and aliens or watching films about planets and aliens. As an Englishman, I'm also rather fond of football and enjoy going to matches with my Dad!


Dora Klindžić

I am a 25-year old physicist from Croatia doing research on all things Space-related, including tracking orbiters around Mars and building an instrument to send to the Moon. I am currently getting my PhD in the Netherlands between Delft and Leiden Universities. In my spare time, I am also a writer of science fiction stories, as well as scripts for video games and comics. I like to explore the idea of how different cultures would co-exist in Space exploration and have a special interest in writing about robots and artificial intelligence.


Giovanna Pugliese

I am an Italian astrophysicist, married to a Danish astrophysicist and we have 3 kids. I like music, travelling and plaing the PS4 with my kids. In my job, I look at the night sky with large telescopes that are mainly in Chile and study the stars that were observed to understand how they formed and died. One thing I really love about my work is that it allows me to meet so many people with different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, and this is something that enriches me constantly.


Jwalant Ninad Yagnik

I am a student of Astrophysics at Radboud University, Netherlands. I recently worked with a team of scientists and engineers from the Netherlands and built a Telescope array on top of the La Silla mountains in Chile, which will be used to observe the light coming from merging Neutron stars. Prior to this, I was a Physics teacher, English language trainer as well as a Science Communicator, in my hometown in India. Outside of Physics and Astronomy, I love reading, playing chess, singing, travelling and meeting new people, and cooking. A fun fact about me: I learnt how to fly an aircraft before I learnt how to drive a car.



My name is Lucas Taling, I'm 21 years old and I come from the UK. I'm a huge football fan, I love running and I enjoy playing the piano (even though I'm not very good). I also have a very friendly rabbit named Flopsy! Currently, I'm a 3rd-year bachelor student at Leiden University where I study astronomy and physics. Contrary to what you might believe, the photo above is not of me trying to cook, but it's actually of me at the telescope in La Palma handling liquid nitrogen!


Sarah Leslie

I was born in Perth, Western Australia. After an inspiring lecture, I became inspired by the idea of studying the biggest thing possible — the entire UNIVERSE. I moved across the country to go to university at the Australian National University, I also met my husband there. After our studies, we moved across the world to Germany, where I was a PhD student in Heidelberg. My research is about observing how galaxies grow over time. I graduated in July 2019, so I am now Dr Leslie and am continuing my research here in the Netherlands at Leiden Observatory. One of my hobbies includes painting astronomical objects.


Anniek Gloudemans

My name is Anniek and I am a PhD student at Leiden Observatory, where I research the radio emission from very distant galaxies. I was born and raised in Utrecht in the Netherlands and before coming to Leiden I studied Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam. In my free time, I love to do ballet dancing and travel around the world.


Daniele Rogantini

My name is Daniele, I live in Utrecht in the Netherlands and "soon" I will move to Boston (USA) at MIT. I did my PhD at SRON in Utrecht where I studied interstellar dust. The Universe is indeed not that clean as we can imagine but it is full of small particles which are very important to create new planets and stars. I really love climbing and hiking on high mountains, closer to the stars. I also play a bit of guitar and didgeridoo.


Eleanor Spring

I'm from London, in the UK. I always liked science but I also really liked art, acting and languages, so I found it really difficult to choose what to study at university. After doing my bachelor's and master's degrees in Edinburgh, I moved to Amsterdam to do a PhD in exoplanet science. Exoplanets are planets that are outside our Solar System - they are really far away so they are very difficult to find. I still really love arts and languages, and I like to draw cartoons of exoplanets to help explain what I do for my PhD. I also have a second job as a yoga teacher.


Jakob van den Eijnden

My name is Jakob, I live in Amsterdam in the Netherlands but I was born in Maastricht. I work at the University of Amsterdam, where my job is to look at cannibalism in the universe. I use telescopes, standing on Earth or flying on satellites through space, to look at stars that eat other stars when these get too close. Of course, stars are not alive; so when I say 'eat', I mean that one star attracts the gas from the other star with its gravity. When I am not using a telescope, I love teaching students at university and working with children and teenagers to discover the wonders of space together, during visits to primary and high schools.



De Silva

From early childhood beginnings, I aspired to be the first Sri Lankan Astronaut to help terraform Mars. Dedicated to achieving my dream, I am now a masters student at the International Space University in France, studying Human Performance in space, Space Policy and Law, Space Science and Business Management in Space. I am also passionate about STEM outreach education for children and young adults. Overcoming many hurdles, I have been part of professional and academic space-related programs around the world. I'm also a licensed Zumba Dance Fitness Instructor and I love to dance!




From a young age, I was interested in astronomy. I loved learning about the planets and black holes, and I even went to astronomy camp. After high school, I studied astronomy, and now I work as a researcher. My research is on how the birthplace of a star influences the planets around it.


Shahrzad Timman

I am a Dutch Aerospace Engineer with a passion for human spaceflight. The movie Apollo 13 inspired me at a young age. I studied at the Delft University of Technology and started working at the European Space Agency as an intern. After my Master's degree, I did my PhD in human-robot interaction at ISAE SUPAERO in Toulouse and worked on the problem of time delay in teleoperations.⁠


Aurora Kesseli

My name is Aurora. I was borne  in the US but I am now working at Leiden University as an astronomer. I use telescopes all over the world - from Hawaii to Spain to Chile - to try to learn about exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets that are in different solar systems around stars that are not our Sun. Outside of work, I love to play sports and to read - especially science fiction books.


Dirk van Dam

My name is Dirk van Dam, I was born in Venezuela to a Dominican mother and a Dutch father As a child I had a fascination for the stars, planets and for how things work, so I ended up learning more about both. At the end of high school, I moved to The Netherlands from Venezuela to study Mechanical Engineering at the TU Delft. I did a Masters’ in Astronomy Research and Instrumentation and now I do a PhD focused on finding exoplanets. I speak English, Spanish and Dutch and in my free time I love to play music, board games, cook and look up at the night sky.


Felienne Hermans

I am an associate professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science at Leiden University, where I'm head of the PERL research group, focused on programming education.
I am the creator of the Hedy programming language, and I was one of the founders of the Joy of Coding conference. Since 2016, I have been a host at SE radio, one of the most popular software engineering podcasts on the web. When I'm not coding, blogging or teaching, I'm probably knitting, running or playing a (board)game.



I am currently a research associate at the Department of Physics, the University of Strathclyde in the UK. I am an astronomer interested in the hot and energetic universe. I also know a bit about atomic physics. I started my research in astronomy back in 2011 at the National Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Science. I got my master's degree in astronomy in 2014 from the University of Chinese Academy of Science. Then I moved to SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and Leiden Observatory for a PhD program. I defended my dissertation in 2018 at Leiden University.


Lieke van Son

My name is Lieke van son, I am a PhD student in astronomy. I was born in the Netherlands, but I study at the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard in the USA. I love to draw and play the piano. And when it is safe again, I also love to travel the world!


Pedro Salas

I was born in Santiago de Chile, where I study astronomy.  I went to the Netherlands to do a PhD where I studied the material that makes up stars, planets and us; interstellar gas and dust! After that, I decided to go to the US (because my partner's family lives in the US), so I applied for a job at an observatory in the middle of the Appalachian mountains. It's been crazy living here and I'm enjoying it, and even though we do not know what the future will bring I am super happy I decided to follow a career in astronomy.



Hi, I am Zsolt! I am originally from Budapest, Hungary. I decided to become an astrophysicist when I was about 16 years old. I was always curious about stars - I wanted to know what they were made of, how they lived their lives, and why there are so many of them. I truly followed my dreams - without ever stopping - and during my studies, I had the opportunity to live in England, Germany, and Canada. After obtaining my PhD degree, I joined the University of Amsterdam and my research focuses on studying stars.

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