US National Gemini Office Staff


Letizia Stanghellini

Letizia Stanghellini is a NOIRLab/CSDC Astronomer, and the Head of the US NGO. She started as an Associate Astronomer at NOAO in 2004 and had functional roles as TAC Scientist, TAC Manager, and Head of the System Users Support group and later of the US NGO. Previously, she was an Associate Astronomer at ESA/STScI (1998-2004), and an Assistant Astronomer at the Bologna Observatory (1988-1998). She obtained her Ph. D. in Astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995), with a thesis on hot planetary nebulae (PNe) nuclei. She has been researching PNe and their progenitors and progeny for many decades now, and she still finds them important, challenging, and beautiful. She likes to use them (and HII regions) as probes of the stellar populations in galaxies. Her research is both ground- and space-based, from IR multi-conjugated imaging and optical spectroscopy of Galactic and extragalactic PNe and HII regions with Gemini, to optical and UV/slitless spectroscopy and imaging of Galactic and Magellanic Cloud (SMC, LMC) PNe with HST, to Spitzer spectroscopy. Her research group has been the first to observe the fullerene molecules in the extragalactic environment, based on her Spitzer/IRS spectra of SMC PNe. She has been the founder and President, and is currently the Scientific Advisor, of the IAU Commission H3, "Planetary nebulae". Her technical interests verge on spectroscopy, especially on future multi-object spectrographs.


Vinicius Placco

Vinicius is an Associate Scientist at NOIRLab/CSDC, working in the US NGO since September 2020. He obtained his B.Sc. in Physics (2005), M.Sc. (2007), and Ph.D. (2010) in Astronomy at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Following postdoctoral appointments in São Paulo, he held postdoctoral positions at NOAO in Tucson and as a Gemini Science Fellow in Hawaii. Between 2015 and 2020, he was a Research Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame. His research is in the field of Stellar/Galactic archaeology, focusing on establishing observational constraints on the origins and evolution of the chemical elements (from carbon to uranium) in the Milky Way and the Universe. These are accomplished through spectroscopy of the oldest, most metal-poor stars. Vinicius has extensive experience with spectroscopic observations, data reduction, and analysis in a variety of telescopes, on the ground and in space. He is one of six founding members of the R-Process Alliance, an effort to provide constraints (observational, theoretical, and laboratory) on the nature and origin of the astrophysical r-process. Vinicius is currently involved in efforts to apply machine learning techniques to narrow-band photometric surveys and also has interests in data science, data curation, and user support.
website: | email:





Last updated or reviewed December 4, 2020.