Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.
Name: Markus Kissler-Patig
What is your current position and at which telescope?
Director – who acts for all of Gemini (North and South)
In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?
The Director has internal and external duties. Externally, I work with the partner countries, represented by the Gemini Board of Directors, on the general scientific strategy and the budget. Internally, I provide the necessary leadership to ensure smooth operations of the observatory, as well as encouraging ideas that will improve it.
How long have you worked for Gemini?
A little over 4 years now.
What drew you to this job?
The international character of Gemini and the challenge to run an observatory split over two continents.
What is the best part of your job?
Working with a wide diversity of fantastic people.
Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Jurassic park (the real one, not the movie) at the boarder of France and Switzerland.
What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?
Why is astronomy important?
Astronomy answers some of the most profound questions that humans have and that make them what they are.
In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.
My PhD thesis delt with investigating extragalactic star clusters as the skeleton of galaxies, providing clues to their formation and evolution. As some of the oldest objects in the universe, globular clusters revealed a number of constraints on the whereabouts of their host galaxies.
What are your current research interests?
Intermediate-mass black holes, and super-massive black hole evolution; and atmospheres of exoplanets in the context of astrobiology (that I teach at the University of Hawaii and University of Munich).
What is your favorite movie?
No favorite, but among my favorites are the movies of Aki Kaurismäki (top: La vie de Bohème) and Wim Wenders (top: Der Himmel über Berlin), as well as Jim Jarmush’s movies (top: Mystery Train)
What is the latest book you have read?
“Retour a Reims” by sociologist Didier Eribon – an autobiographic essay about the life-long impact that the social class in which we grew up in, as well as our sexual orientation have on our lives.
In parallel I am currently reading “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Sean Carroll – a great summary of the current state of Evolutionary-Developmental biological research
What is one hobby of yours?
… depends on the circumstance, but generally plain water.
Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!