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Conny Aerts

Conny Aerts was born in Brasschaat, Belgium, and graduated in mathematics from nearby Antwerp University. Switching to astrophysics, she obtained her PhD from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in 1993 and then worked as an independent post-doctoral research fellow with stints in a number of European countries as well as Chile and the U.S. She returned to KU Leuven in 2001 and has worked there ever since.

Aerts has carried out a wide range of research on the structure and evolution of stars, especially the heaviest and brightest ones, including studies on stellar rotation, convection and chemical- element transport. She has developed mathematical methods to identify non-radial stellar oscillations in spectroscopic data, and used machine-learning techniques to classify many kinds of variable star using observations from the CoRoT, Kepler and TESS space missions. Among these objects she has detected numerous so-called gravity-mode pulsators.

In 2012 Aerts was awarded the Francqui Prize, an accolade for young Belgian researchers, and has since received the Excellence Award from the Research Foundation – Flanders. She is a member of the Royal Academy for Sciences and the Arts of Belgium, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the European Astronomical Society and the American Astronomical Society, as well as an honorary fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in the UK.

Listen to Conny Aerts on Alan Alda's Clear + Vivid podcast: