Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

Meet the New Board Members of the Europlanet Society

The results of the elections of the Europlanet Society Executive Board were announced at the Europlanet General Assembly on Friday, 10 November. Eight new members of the Board were elected including a Vice-President, two Secretaries (co-position) and five new Board Members.

They join Ann Carine Vandaele, who takes up the mantle of President following her year as President-Elect (elected 2022), Treasurer Didier Moreau (elected 2021) and Vice President Angelo Pio Rossi (elected 2019 with a one year extended term to ensure that the turn-over of the Board is staggered).

Find out about their objectives and what they hope to achieve by serving on the Board of the Europlanet Society over the next four years.

Vice President

Stravro Ivanovski

Stavro Ivanovski, Europlanet Society Vice President
Stavro Ivanovski, Vice-President (2023-2027)

The birth of the Europlanet Society has been followed by the establishment of a Society with long-term activities and values based on inclusiveness, high quality science and outreach, and a sustainable structure open to planetary scientists, amateurs and industry. From my perspective, the Society is not only an idea and platform that represents and connects planetary scientists and enthusiasts, but it is much more – a space driven by sharing ideas, paving apath for early-career scientists and building a self-functioning scientific forum seeking for new (financial) opportunities to address today’s planetary paradigms.

I am a researcher at INAF – Astronomical Observatory of Trieste and Adjunct Professor at the University of Trieste. My research focuses on small bodies and planetary magnetospheres in the Solar System. I am involved in various planetary ESA and NASA missions (e.g. DART/LICIACube, Rosetta, BepiColombo, Comet Interceptor, Hera, Ariel). As a graduated actor with theatre experience, I have a strong commitment to public engagement and outreach as well.

I joined Europlanet in 2017 through its research infrastructure project and since then I have been closely connected with Europlanet. Since 2020, I have acted as the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) Scientific Organising Committee (SOC). I am serving as the Chair of Italian Europlanet Regional Hub. Also, while chairing the EPSC Outreach in 2020, I was one of the creators of the “InspiredByOtherWorlds” art contest that invites everybody to submit all kinds of artworks inspired by planetary science. Furthermore, my experience within Europlanet includes leading the Machine Learning Work Package and acting as the INAF deputy within the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) project.

As Vice-President, I will dedicate my efforts:

  • to maintain the high level scientific content of EPSC and related activities; to strengthen the position of the Society in different countries, for example, Italy and under-represented country such as Balkan countries; 
  • to disseminate all current and future outreach initiatives; to improve the integration and visibility of Society within other scientific communities like astrochemistry and Origins of Life; 
  • last, but not least, to investigate the modern Artificial Intelligence techniques to support the Europlanet Society activities.

Secretary – Co-position

Federica Duras

Federica Duras, Europlanet Society Secretary
Federica Duras, Secretary (2023-2027)

As leader of the Outreach Working Group and as outreach officer in the Italian hub, I am thrilled to apply for the position of Secretary. This pivotal moment in Europlanet Society’s journey presents an exciting opportunity for fresh perspectives and new enthusiasm. In my role as the head of the Outreach Working Group, I have honed my organisational skills, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among the team and among diverse teams. I could summarise my objectives for the Europlanet Society as follows:

  • Continue enhancing the Europlanet communication channels on a larger scale, fostering an interconnected Europlanet community with transparent information dissemination.
  • Building upon the success of the Outreach Working Group activities in the past years, I aspire to amplify Europlanet’s outreach efforts. This involves using modern communication tools and social media and exploring innovative ways to connect with a wider audience.
  • Strengthen the sense of unity and involvement within the Europlanet family. As I believe in the power of collective action, I am firmly convinced that through collaborative projects and shared initiatives we can engage our community also in this transition phase.

Edita Stonkute 

Edita Stonkute, Europlanet Society Secretary.
Edita Stonkute, Secretary (2023-2027)

I am working at the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy of Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania as a senior researcher and an associate professor. My scientific interests are focused on detailed chemical composition studies of Galactic stars (including planet-hosts) using high-resolution spectra. I am a member of the Lithuanian Astronomical Society, the European Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union and Europlanet Society.

Here, at Europlanet I’m responsible for coordinating the Mentoring programme. I hope my dedicated time and work to the Society will be valuable and I would like to be nominated as a Secretary.

Board Members

Julia de León

Julia de Leon, Europlanet Society Board Member
Julia de Leon, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am a planetary scientist with 20 years of experience in the field. My main interest is the near-Earth asteroid population (NEAs) and its physical, compositional and dynamical properties. As a consequence, my work has been strongly connected to planetary defense. I am mainly an observational researcher, working with both ground-based and space-based data. I have recently been part of the EU project NEOROCKS, focused in the characterisation of NEAs and with the participation of 14 European institutions. In addition, I have participated in at least two observational campaigns to study potentially hazardous asteroids, coordinated by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN). Finally, I am/have been actively involved in several space missions to visit and study asteroids and other minor bodies (Rosetta, OSIRIS-REx, Hayabusa2, DART, Hera, MMX, DESTINY+, Lucy), led by the main space agencies (ESA, NASA, JAXA).

 All this overall research experience has intensified my personal conviction that planetary science is a collaborative activity, and that it evolves and improves thanks to all this global collaborative effort. I would be honored to serve on the Executive Board of the Europlanet Society. This is an experienced, diverse, large, and strong society with a solid base in Europe but a global view. I will put all my gained experience in international collaborations at the service of the European planetary science community to enhance and promote global collaboration.

Livia Giacomini

Livia Giacomini, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Livia Giacomini, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

Over the past years on the Executive Board, I’ve had the privilege to actively contribute to our Society’s activities, focusing on education, communication and policy initiatives. As I seek to continue my journey with Europlanet, my vision is to strengthen Europlanet visibility, working for its sustainability in the long term, strengthening our ties with international entities and finding ways to make the Society grow. I would also ensure that Europlanet remains at the forefront of innovation in education of planetary science and in the broader scientific domain. As the editor-in-chief of astroEDU, the IAU platform for peer reviewed educational activities, I believe I have valuable experiences and connections to pursue this objective for our Society. I am dedicated to serving as a bridge, connecting our history with the future that the community envisions.

Melissa Mirino

Melissa Mirino, Europlanet Society Board Member.
Melissa Mirino, Board Member (2023-2027)

I am currently the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Early Career Network, and I have been previously involved with Europlanet by managing the EPEC Communication WG. As such, I have been very active on committee matters. During my involvement with the organization, I have been always active in supporting Early Careers by organizing and managing activities such as the “EPEC Profiles”, the “#PlanetaryScience4All video contest” and the EPEC Podcast “Stairway to Space” to allow the young professionals to showcase their contribution within the field of Planetary Science. Additionally, I have supported many other activities (Outreach, Annual Weeks, Europlanet Magazine, EPSC, EPEC annual report) by collaborating with the Europlanet communication team.

My objectives would be:

  1. rebuild the existing EPEC structure to make it a long-lasting organisation within Europlanet that supports early careers from any background,
  2. to be a direct link between the Early Careers who join our Network and the Europlanet Board, by representing their interests and needs into our Society. I strongly believe that the direct presence of an Early Career among the Europlanet Board Members would largely benefit Europlanet by hearing the Early Career voice.

Leigh Fletcher

Leigh Fletcher, Europlanet Society Executive Board Member
Leigh Fletcher, Board Member (2019-2023, 2023-2027)

I am a Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester, specialising in the exploration of Giant Planet systems via a combination of ground-based observations, space telescopes, and visiting planetary spacecraft. I have been a member of the Europlanet community since the mid-2000s, and have always delighted in the opportunity offered by EPSC to meet with like-minded European planetary scientists. We have a thriving and diverse community, spanning the whole portfolio of planetary science, and the Europlanet Society provides a voice to our members, both across Europe and with the wider international community. It has been a pleasure to serve on the Board, and be a member of the Europlanet team, for the past four years. This experience has given me an insight into how the Society works, the key challenges it faces, and the opportunities that await in the years to come. The EPSC meetings are my topmost priority, being the premier networking and collaborative meeting for European planetary scientists. We should ensure these are held annually in Europe as a service to our community; costs are kept manageable to ensure wider representation; locations are kept accessible via public transportation with minimal carbon footprints; and virtual capabilities are maintained to improve access for those who may be unable to travel. We should continue to provide resources to our Early Career Network, particularly to enable exchanges of ideas and capabilities so that no one ever works in isolation. We should continue to use Europlanet as a conduit for interactions between amateur observers and professional planetary scientists. We should reintegrate the best of the European hubs back into the society, recognising the importance of local connections, but without stretching individual hubs too far. Above all, we should ensure that Europlanet activities and the thriving EPSC meetings are sustainable in the decades to come

Luca Montabone

Luca Montabone, Board Member (2023-2027)

An opportunity to do things together that would not be possible on their own. This is what I would like the Europlanet Society to represent for its members. The first time I heard about the concept of a European “virtual observatory” was at a meeting in London, when I was a postdoc at the University of Oxford, UK, after a PhD in Geophysics in Turin, Italy. Since then, several things have changed in the original EuroPlaNet as well as in my career, but the shared passion for planetary science and enthusiasm for new challenges have not changed! I worked for more than a decade on the physics of planetary atmospheres also at the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique/CNRS in Paris, France, at The Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, and at the Space Science Institute in Boulder (CO), USA. Over the past few years, I have created a bridge between the academic and industry facets of planetary science in Europe. I am now running my own small enterprise in South-East France, collaborating with several international research institutions and ESA in satellite data analysis, modelling, and mission concepts for the atmosphere of Mars. The new reality of the Europlanet Society requires a variety of experiences and ideas to support the planetary science community in Europe and to build capacity elsewhere, all in a self-sustainable way. It now seems the right time for me to share my experience and ideas within the Executive Board and the Society at large. As one of the Board members, I will naturally focus my attention on the relations between the Society and the private sector (companies working on hardware, software, data analysis, etc.). Given my aptitude for training and public outreach, I will also look closely at the developments in these areas. Because policy can open up thriving directions for the Society, I would like to take on the challenge to engage with policy makers (European institutions, space agencies, etc.). However, I believe that only a community approach can succeed in moving the Europlanet Society towards its goal of becoming a self-sustained reference for the planetary science community itself, in Europe and beyond. Therefore, strengthening the role of the regional hubs, widening participation, inclusion and diversity are all key areas which I am particularly keen on. As for the other strategic areas (such as early career, research infrastructure, etc.), I am eager to work with Board members who will focus on them.

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

The results have been announced of a call by the Europlanet Society to support funding proposals of €1000 to €5000 from its Regional Hubs, Committees and Working Groups and the Society Membership. Five projects have been supported in 2023:

French Hub proposal: Careers workshop at French Planetary Science Congress (€4900)

The French Planetary Science Congress will be held in Nantes in July 2024 conjointly with the French Astrobiology Society (SFE) and National Programme for Planetary Science (PNP), where two days will be devoted to astrobiology topics and two others to planetary science more generally. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support a one-day workshop devoted to early career researchers focussed on careers in planetary science, divided into talks from industry and academia about their diverse career paths, and workshops on topics such as “CV writing for industry”, “writing a good research grant”, a poster session in the afternoon will allow attendees to exchange with the invited speakers and other researchers at the conference. The whole event will be in French to maximise interaction between the masters and PhD students and the presenters.

Spain Portugal Hub proposal: Pro-Am occultations campaigns with a portable telescope (€3300)

Occultations of stars by small Solar System bodies provide relevant information about their atmosphere, rings, satellites and morphology. The most interesting results are usually obtained when several different chords of the same occultation event are gathered. Therefore, it is usually necessary to deploy different instruments across the predicted shadow path in order to maximise the probability of capturing relevant data.

Several members of the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina (an amateur astronomy group from the south of Spain) have collaborated in dozens of different ProAm occultation campaigns promoted by the IAA and other organizations, specially those involving transneptunian objects, Jupiter trojans and NEOs. Those campaigns usually involve traveling (sometimes thousands of kilometers) in order to correctly position the telescopes and auxiliary gear. To continue and improve collaborations, funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to acquire a more powerful (but still portable) telescope to obtain occultation data of fainter stars.

Central Europe Hub proposal: Orionids 2023 (€1400)

Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support “Orionids 2023”, a meteor astro-camp. During a weekend workshop that will take place in Banská Štiavnica, in central Slovakia, different astrophysicist and astronomers amateur will provide lectures about how to observe meteor showers and secondary meteor showers in a classical traditional way. This seminar will teach the participants how to be prepared theoretically for such an observation, what methodology (IMO) to use and how to practically observe a meteor shower in general. Afterwards, it will be given the knowledge of submitting the results in the IMO database. Another aim of the project is to teach a new lecturing team in order to maintain visual observation discipline, also nowadays in modern digital times. The plan for the future is to organize the observation of meteor showers at least 3 times a year. The best possibilities would be in Slovak dark sky parks or another convenient location. The expected number of participants of the Orionids 2023 is 12 with 4 lecturers. The first Orionids astro-camp is planned in Slovakia but international participants are also welcome

Central Europe Hub: Variable stars and exoplanet research meeting – support for international audience (€3060)

The Czech Variable stars meeting is traditionally organised by the Czech Astronomical Society, Variable stars and exoplanet section, association of professional and amateur astronomers predominantly from the Czech Republic, but also members from other european countries. This meeting has a long history, the last 54th meeting took place in November 2022 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Average audience is between 50 and 100 participants, including online audience. Various topics with focus on pro-am research of variable stars and exoplanets are discussed. With the incresing number of international collaboration, there is a rise of international audience of the meeting. Last year’s meeting was also held in hybrid form. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society to broaden focus of the meeting to the Central European international audience by formally dividing the meeting to consecutive international and Czech/Slovak sections, advertising the meeting on the European level and providing support for in-person participants – amateur astronomers and students. The support will comprise travel bursaries and support with translation of presentations and other material into English. Since 2021 there is also an student section in the form of a competition organised, where also students from other countries can participate.

Ireland-UK Hub: Europlanet Early-Career Networking at the British Planetary Science Conference 2024 (€4380)

The British Planetary Science Conference (BPSC) 2024 has been awarded by the UK Planetary Forum to Space Park Leicester (SPL). It will be held in June 2024 at Space Park and the adjacent National Space Centre in Leicester. Europlanet sponsorship was requested to raise awareness of society membership benefits in the UK. BPSC will start with a 1-day workshop for those new to the space and planetary science community, where experienced SPL engineers and project managers will lead examples of how space instruments and missions are developed. This will help facilitate wider access to new space exploration initiatives in the planetary and space science community, and is particularly focussed on connecting early-career researchers to new opportunities. The main 3-day part of the conference will consist of oral and poster sessions reflecting the range of topical planetary and space science activities in the UK, including results from sample return missions, Mars exploration, the Gas and Ice Giants, meteorites, Mercury. The main conference will also have an emphasis on careers and EDI, with input on careers in the space industry. On the final day will include a community consultation day with UKSA, STFC, and other interested stakeholders like Europlanet.

South East Europe Hub: Terrestrial Analogues for Solar System Studies Conference (€5000)

Co-funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme for an already designed planetary-themed conference to be held in Greece, in the island of Milos, during the summer of 2024. The conference has both scientific and policy aspects, and aims to bring together planetary scientists from all over the world, with an emphasis on students and early career participants from Southeastern Europe, in a location of great relevance and interest for planetary geologic topics – the island of Milos. This region has experienced young volcanism and tectonism (Mars, Pluto), has undergone atmospheric shaping of volcanic deposits, and carving into yardangs (Mars, Titan, Venus, Pluto), and has current hydrothermal and fumarolic activity (Venus, Io, exoplanets). The conference will offer a combination of lectures, science discussions and filed trips, as well as policy and industry related discussions in a dedicated session. Planetary scientists with experience in field geology will interact with those who typically do modeling or laboratory studies, furthering the cross communication of topics and improving the research approach for all participants to lead to a better understanding.

EPEC: Early Career Activities at DPS-EPSC 2023 (€900)

EPEC has organised a programme of events for early career researchers at the joint DPS-EPSC meeting in October 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The planned activities include a short course on mental health, a social event, mentoring for first-time attendees and the EPEC general assembly. In addition, EPEC will have a booth to help early careers find their way around and inform them about our work.

Find out more about the Committee Funding Scheme.

Athena Coustenis to be awarded EGU Cassini Medal

Athena Coustenis to be awarded EGU Cassini Medal

Athena Coustenis (Observatoire de Paris) is to be awarded EGU Cassini Medal in recognition of her exceptional achievements in planetary and space science.

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has named the 47 recipients of next year’s Union Medals and Awards, Division Medals, and Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Awards. These individuals are honoured for their important contributions to the Earth, planetary and space sciences. They will be celebrated during the EGU General Assembly 2023, which will be held from 23–28 April.

The Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership of the EGU form one of the three equally ranked most prestigious awards made by the Union. They are bestowed to scientists who have achieved exceptional international standing in planetary and space sciences, defined in their widest senses, for their merit and their scientific achievements.

Many congratulations to Athena, and to all the winners.

Watch Athena talking about her career in this EPEC Motivational Journey interview:

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, 1945-2022

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, 1945-2022

We are deeply saddened to hear that the astrophysicist and valued member of our community, Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, has passed away.  

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd pursued her research career at the Service d’Aéronomie (LATMOS institute since 2009) and her teaching as an assistant professor to Jacques Blamont at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). She was appointed professor of astronomy and space physics in 1985 and became professor emeritus in 2013.

After her studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Cachan, she defended her PhD in Physical Sciences in 1976 under the supervision of Jacques Blamont. She analysed the atmospheric and astronomical observations made by the D2A satellite with a contribution to the study of the zodiacal light. In 1977, she applied to the ESA astronaut selection campaign and was the only woman selected amongst the final participants.

After her PhD, she collaborated with René Dumont on studies of the interplanetary medium and zodiacal light. These observations gave the first global map in intensity and polarisation of the zodiacal light and provided constraints on the local physical properties of the interplanetary dust particles.

Anny-Chantal participated in the international campaign of Halley’s comet return in 1986 both with observations from the ground and as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the OPE experiment on-board the European Giotto spacecraft, which observed the linear polarisation in the inner coma of Halley. Results showed the presence of low-density solid particles and light scattering mostly by large particles. Her work helped define a classification of comets based on their polarization phase curves, a result still discussed in the astronomical community today. She also studied the internal regions of cometary coma by polarimetric imaging.

She continued her work on the study of light scattering by irregular particles by developing facilities in the laboratory and in microgravity (such as PROGRA2, CODAG and ICAPS-LSU) to study simultaneously the intensity and polarization phase curves of aggregating particles under microgravity. A reduced version of the ICAPS experiment will soon fly on-board a TEXUS rocket.

Anny-Chantal Levasseur-Regourd speaking at the forum “The year viewed by… sciences” organised by France Culture on 14 February 2015. Credit: Pamputt/CC BY-SA 4.0

Anny-Chantal’s participation in the Rosetta mission was focused on determining the physical properties of the cometary nucleus and the ejected dust particles. These particles were demonstrated to present fractal structures down to nanometer scales with a composition dominated by organic material. Anny-Chantal was also the PI of the EyeSat student nanosatellite launched by the CNES in 2019. Finally, she actively participated in the development of the EnVisS camera, a multiwavelength polarimetric imager of the ESA Comet Interceptor spacecraft due to be launched in 2029 and dedicated to observing a fresh or interstellar comet.

In summary, Anny-Chantal combined in her work ground-based and space-based observations together with laboratory and numerical simulations to better understand the physical properties of solid dust particles ejected from comets. The object of her studies were mostly linked to the small bodies of the Solar System, comets and asteroids with their similarities and differences, the solid particles they eject, and the interplanetary dust medium that results from their interactions.

She supervised seven PhD students. A dedicated teacher, she never hesitated to motivate her students to give their best, and helped advance their growth as researchers. She pushed forward their work at international conferences and also encouraged them to present their own work. She was particularly enthusiastic about supporting the recognition and advancement of her female colleagues.

Outside of her advising work, she developed numerous national and international collaborations in all the domains of study of the solar system small bodies and light scattering by solid particles which lead to 179 refereed papers (241 conference abstracts).

Anny-Chantal loved to share her passion and she participated in the writing of public outreach books on astronomy (5 books) and to television lectures (for example on canal-U). She delivered numerous public outreach conferences and animations of the astronomical community. She was most notably the President of the French Committee for the organization of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The asteroid 6170 is named Levasseur in her honor. In recognition of her scientific work, she was appointed Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2013 and was awarded the following prizes: prix Thorlet de l’Académie des sciences (1976), prix Glaxo de vulgarisation scientifique (1982), prix des Dames de la Société Astronomique de France (1986).

She will be dearly missed by the whole scientific community in France and worldwide.

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Let us show you how the Europlanet Society and its regional hubs can serve you. We will present you the benefits of joining the hubs and will gladly hear about your needs.

12:45 Welcome (Séverine Robert)

12:50 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Miguel Lopez Valverde)

12:55 Funded project: Mars Atlas (Henrik Hargitai)

13:05 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Jonathan Merrison)

13:10 Funded project: Storytelling workshop (Arianna Piccialli)

13:20 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Nicholas Achilleos)

13:25 Collaborative framework: Europlanet Telescope Network (Manuel Scherf)

13:35 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Lena Noack)

13:40 General discussion: What do you want the EPS to do for you? (All Panelists)

14:10 Wrap up (Séverine Robert)

14:15 End of meeting


The Europlanet Society Regional Hubs support the development of planetary science at a national and regional level, particularly in countries and areas that are currently under-represented within the community.

Our Hub Committees organise networking events and workshops to support the research community, as well as to build links with amateur astronomers, industrial partners, policymakers, educators, the media and the wider public. Europlanet Society members are welcome to participate in the activities of one or more Hubs.

The 10 Regional Hubs established to date are:

Новости Омутнинск Любовь и семья Общество Люди и события Красота и здоровье Дети Диета Кулинария Полезные советы Шоу-бизнес Огород Гороскопы Авто Интерьер Домашние животные Технологии Рекорды и антирекорды