About me

Hi there! My name is Geert, which is a funny Dutch name.

I am an Astronomer and Computer Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in sunny Silicon Valley, California.

I help run NASA's Kepler/K2 Space Telescope, which is discovering Earth-like planets orbiting other stars and has yielded a huge, revolutionary data set that is aiding all areas of astrophysics.

I became an astronomer because I love to analyze data using powerful tools such as Python, PostgreSQL, and high-performance computing. I believe that computers are a bicycle for the brain and I like to cycle them as far and as fast as I can. 🚴

I obtained my undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, where I focused on statistics, probability theory, databases, and machine learning.

After my undergraduate studies, I tackled data analysis challenges during internships at the Meteorological Institute of Belgium and the European Space Agency.

I then went on to obtain a PhD in Astrophysics on the top of star formation at the Armagh Observatory (Queen's University Belfast) in Northern Ireland, and completed post-doctoral research at the University of Hertfordshire, where I used large telescopes to map our Milky Way and gained teaching experience by lecturing undergraduate courses on software engineering and statistics.

In 2015, I was given the incredible opportunity to join NASA, where I work now.

Career

  • 2002-2006: MSc Computer Science, University of Antwerp (Belgium)
  • 2006-2007: Research Assistant, Royal Meteorological Institute (Belgium)
  • 2007-2008: Young Graduate Trainee, European Space Agency (The Netherlands)
  • 2008-2012: PhD Astrophysics, Queen's University Belfast (UK)
  • 2012-2015: Post-doctoral Research Assistant, University of Hertfordshire (UK)
  • 2015-now: Research Scientist, NASA (USA)

Research interests

  • Astrophysics: star formation, exoplanets, solar system.
  • Astronomical surveys: Kepler, K2, IPHAS, VPHAS, LSST.
  • Computing: probabilistic models, MCMC, data visualisation.

Specialties

  • object-oriented software engineering using Python, Java, C/C++, PHP;
  • web development using Javascript, JQuery, Bootstrap, etc;
  • data cleaning, processing and archiving using unix tools and database systems;
  • hierarchical probabilistic (Bayesian) inference and machine learning;
  • data visualization;
  • presenting scientific results to an audience of experts or non-experts.

Things I have created

Other highlights