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Best Doctoral Thesis in Observational Astrophysics

Dr. Amaury Triaud

Amaury Triaud is currently doing a postdoctoral fellowship supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the USA. His path is an example of contemporary youth in Europe: born and schooled in France, he then decided to pursue his undergraduate studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland graduating in 2007 with a Masters of Physics. His summers were spent in France (2003 & 2004), Germany (2005) and Switzerland (2006) doing research internships that nurtured his scientific career and produced his first papers. He moved to Geneva in 2007 for a four-year PhD program that was completed in August 2011. The number, variety and citation rate of his publications are a testimony of his achievements during and since his thesis. He also applied his skills to the service of multiple outreach activities to bring science to the wide public.

Amaury Triaud conducted the radial velocity confirmation of transiting exoplanet candidates produced by the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP). This led to the confirmation of 48 new nearby exoplanetary systems, which are prime targets for characterisation. Triaud chose to focus on measuring the angle between the starʼs rotation axis and the planetʼs orbit. Multiple observations using ESOʼs HARPS spectrograph unveiled the earliest evidence for planets on retrograde orbits and found that a large fraction of hot Jupiters do not occupy orbits coplanar with their star. Those results shacked widely held believes about planet formation and migration scenarios and triggered a flurry of theoretical papers and additional observations.

The PhD thesis of Amaury Triaud was carried out at the Observatory of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) between August 2007 and August 2011, under the supervision of Prof. Didier Queloz.