My name is Ingo Waldmann and I’m a lecturer in astrophysics at the University College London (UCL). In 2019 I won the RAS Fowler Award (G) for my work in machine learning to characterising the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. Exoplanets are planets orbiting other stars, often 100s of lightyears away. To observe and model their atmospheric chemistry and cloud patterns, we must push the most sensitive instruments, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, to their very limits. Here, machine learning helps significantly to dig out the faint signal of these foreign worlds in the mountains of stellar and instrumental noise.
I was born in Munich and did my high-school in Spain before coming to the UK to study Natural Sciences at UCL. My career path has been a little unusual, as in that I have never left UCL since my undergraduate days. I’ve completed my PhD in 2012 and after two post-doc positions I have been fortunate enough to get awarded an ERC Starting Grant to build my own team, the ExoAI group. It’s a lot of fun working with a dedicated team trying to find new solutions to long standing problems.
In my spare time, together with my colleague Marco Rocchetto, we recently set up a startup company called SpaceFlux to bring a global network of small robotic telescope to market. It’s very exciting but still very early days. The rest of the time my girlfriend and I go to Muay Thai classes together and meet up with friends whenever we can.