João Alves is a professor of stellar astrophysics at the University of Vienna, in Austria. His primary research interest is to understand how diffuse interstellar gas clouds form, evolve, and eventually collapse to form stars and planets. He is excited about the exploration of the European Space Agency’s newly released Gaia satellite data, the upcoming European Extremely Large Telescope, and the search for intelligent life in the universe.
During his Radcliffe fellowship, Alves plans to construct the most accurate map of the local neighborhood (3,000-light-year radius). Combining both space and ground-based observational data, he plans to build the first map of the space motion of gas and investigate how giant gas clouds, the nurseries of stars, came to be.
Alves studied physics at Universidade de Lisboa, in Portugal, did his PhD thesis work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and moved to Münich, Germany, to become a European Southern Observatory (ESO) fellow. He became an ESO staff member and head of the visiting astronomers section before moving to southern Spain to take the directorship of the German–Spanish Astronomical Center at Calar Alto. In addition to his professorship at University of Vienna, which he has held since 2010, Alves is the current dean of the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy. He is a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, sits on the ESO Council, and serves as the Astronomy & Astrophysics letters editor in chief.