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Best Early Career Researcher in Observational Astrophysics

Dr. Saskia Hekker

After receiving her PhD from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in Sept. 2007, Saskia Hekker worked at the Royal Observatory of Belgium and the University of Birmingham. In 2011 she was awarded a personal 3-year Veni Fellowship from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to conduct research at the Astronomical Institute 'Anton Pannekoek', University of Amsterdam. Since September 2013, she works in Göttingen at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS). In 2013 she obtained a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to determine Stellar Ages through asteroseismology. In 2014, she was awarded a Max Planck Independent Research Group focusing on 'Asteroseismology and Galactic Evolution', which is an international node of the 'Stellar Astrophysics Centre', a Centre of excellence in research of the Sun, Stars and Extra-solar planets. Her career path and mobility is outstanding, particularly since Saskia is also a mother.

Saskia Hekker announced, already during her PhD, non-expected, non-radial oscillations in red-giant stars which she then confirmed using data of the CoRoT satellite. She was also heavily involved in the discovery, identification, and analysis of mixed oscillation modes, which allow to probe the core region of the stars, in particular to disentangle hydrogen-shell- from helium-core-burning red giants. She discovered the first red giant in an eclipsing binary and developed methods to determine global asteroseismic parameters, which she then applied to Kepler data of planet-hosting stars.

Saskia Hekker performed her work at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom (2009–2011); Astronomical Institute ʻAnton Pannekoekʼ, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2011–2013) and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany (2013–present).