Astronomy for Universities & Research (TF1)

The task force on Astronomy for Universities & Research (TF1) drives activities related to astronomy at universities. It uses astronomy to stimulate research in other areas and develop the field in places where there is little or no astronomy. The study of astronomy stimulates research and development activities through the need for inter-disciplinary research as well as the development of observational technology. There is also potential for developing research in the historical and cultural aspects of astronomy which may prove important for stimulating an interest in the subject in communities where there is no established interest in the science.

The long history of work within the IAU’s Commission 46 Programme Groups will be built upon by this task force. Examples of activities are institute twinning; research visits; regional training schools; etc.

Volunteers are always needed. Please contact us or fill in the online form if you can contribute.


Nicole van der Bliek is Deputy Director at CTIO/NOAO, Chile. She is an infrared astronomer, and worked on young stars, infrared astronomy and instrumentation. She is a member of the AAS Nominating Committee.
Edward Guinan

is Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Science at Villanova University. His research efforts are focused on the stellar astrophysics, stellar evolution, pulsating stars, eclipsing binaries, precise distances to galaxies, stellar & solar magnetic activity (including related coronal and chromosphere emissions), and exploring the potential habitability of exoplanets as well as Astrobiology. He has served as the Chair of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Career and Employment Committee and was a member of the AAS Council (2009-2012). Guinan served as President of IAU commission 42 (Close Binaries) and President of IAU Division V (Binary and Variable Stars). He served as Vice Chair of IAU International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) from 2000-2006 and Co-Chair of the IAU Teaching Astronomy for Development (TAD) from 2006-2012. Over twenty programs, schools and workshops were organized in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle-East over this time. Currently Guinan is the Co-Chair of the IAU/OAD Task Force on Astronomy Education and Research at Universities and Institutions in developing countries. He also is a member of the Advisory Boards of Star Voyager Interstellar Program, the International Space Development Hub (ISDHub) Advisory Board and the Lifeboat Foundation.

Katrien Kolenberg

is an Associate Researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, USA, and University of Leuven in Belgium (where she obtained her PhD). At the University of Vienna in Austria, she led a research project for several years. She currently works as a Marie Curie Fellow between Harvard and Leuven. The main focus of her research lies in stellar astrophysics, but she has always been exploring the intersections between science, culture and art. Within the IAU, Katrien is an Organizing Committee member of Division G Commission 27 Variable Stars, member of Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage, member of Division C Commission 46 Astronomy Education & Development. Since 2006 Katrien has been organizing and teaching astronomy workshops on different continents at various levels, and is being increasingly energized by the benefits these exchanges bring to all involved (and even further).


Michele Gerbaldi

is an Associate Researcher at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (IAP) in France and a retired faculty member from the Université de Paris-Sud. Her research domain include atmospheric properties and evolutionary status of peculiar early type stars. Besides her normal duties at the university, she has created with colleagues specific teachings. Since 1977, she has created dedicated sessions at the university and Summer Schools for the training of School Teachers, as well as a non-profit association (the Liaison Committee Astronomers and Teachers – CLEA, which publishes a quarterly Journal). She has also created two Distance Learning Courses in astronomy-astrophysics, each being granted by a university diploma, since 1992, in which several hundreds of students have been enrolled. She has various responsibilities within the International Astronomical Union (IAU) related with the Commission 46, as the Chairperson of the International School for Young Astronomers ISYA (1997-2007) and for 2013-2015 she is involved in the Steering Committee of IAU Division C.

Jean-Pierre de Greve is a Professor in Astrophysics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, as well as the former Vice-rector for International Relations and Chair of the university’s Working Group on Science Communication. A member of the Steering Committee of UNICA (network of Universities of European Capital Cities), the Scientific Committee of Flanders Technology International (FTI) and the Science Center Technopolis (since 1996), he is also the IAU Commission 46 President (Astronomy Education and Development).
Richard de Grijs

obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 1997; he joined the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in September 2009 as a full professor. He is the joint director of the East Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development, as well as the international coordinator for China of the Institute of Physics (UK). He also seves as Deputy Editor of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. He was awarded the 2012 Selby Award for excellence in science by the Australian Academy of Science, as well as a 2013 Visiting Academy Professorship at Leiden University by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Roger Hajjar

is a Faculty Member at the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Notre Dame University, a Department he helped found in 2010. He is a also a afounding member of the Task Force for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research. He served as the National node and coordinator for IYA 09. He helped organize the first summer school in Lebanon in 2005 and reiterated with a second one in 2010. He also co-organized the first Lebanese Astrophysics Meeting in 2009. He founded the NDU Astronomy Club in 1998, presently the oldest continuously active astronomy club in Lebanon and co-founded the Lebanese Astronomy Group, an association devoted to the development of astronomy at the amateur and educational level. With the members of the Department, he helped fund the construction and equipment of the Farid & Moussa Raphael Observatory on the NDU campus, the first fully equiped observatory in Lebanon since the observatories of the late 19th early 20th century. He is currently involved in the development of a high altitude observational facility in collaboration with NAOJ.

Edward Jurua

is a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, He is now promoting the teaching of astronomy in Uganda. He is current research is in high energy astrophysics.

Hakim Malasan

completed his doctoral degree in the field of Stellar Physics from The University of Tokyo, Japan 1992. Part of his research on Close Binary Central Stars of PlaneNebulae was cnducted using facility at Mauna Kea Observatory. Malasan works in the field of Stellar Physics, Close Binary Systems, Planetary Nebulae, Optical Astronomy instrumentation and observations, Computational Astrophysics, Data modeling and statistics of measurements and, recently, Management information systems for Observatory. He was the Director of Bosscha Observatory of Institute of Technology Bandung, Lembang, Indonesia, in the period 2010-2011.

Shengbang Qian

is a professor of Yunnan Observatories and University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is interested in close binaries, cataclysmic variables, circumbinary planets and brown dwarfs, and binaries and variables in stellar clusters. Shengbang was awarded the Government Allowance Prize, Chinese National Outstanding Youth Foundation, Excellent Supervisor Award of Chinese Academy of Sciences etc. He organized the 33rd IAU International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) in 2011 and will co-organize the 36th ISYA in 2014.

Ravi Sheth

(IT/USA) is a cosmologist. His work forms the basis of methods which use the abundance and spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy clusters to constrain the expansion history of the Universe and the nature of gravity. He is the primary point of contact for ICTP’s astronomy and astrophysics-related programs.