Anthony Berdeu

Institut Superieur de l’aeronautique et de l’espace
Toulouse, France

Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics

Principal Investigator: Dr. Peter Jenniskens

About me:

I was born and grew up in Bordeaux, France. I developed a very early passion for astronomy because my mother used to read me short stories about space and showed me books for young children with astronomical pictures. In addition, as a university professor in Physics, my father has always been present to answer my questions. As a result, I quickly became very curious and attracted by nature. I also developed and kept an open mind about what surrounds me by watching the famous French daily documentary, “C’est pas sorcier”, which deals with a large amount of subjects from chemistry to physics, from history to geography, from nature to geology, and so on. I have always tried to have a broad culture, which helped me to develop a critical mind.

Coming from a modest background, I learned to know the value of things and I did not have many opportunities to travel. That is why I am very glad to have been selected for the NASA Academy: I will go for the first time to the USA. I am adaptable, I love working on new areas of investigation and developing new ways to solve problems. When I work on a project I do my best and I am not put off by difficulties or obstacles. I always go beyond the surface level of interpretation in my work in order to be sure to understand all the facets of problems that I tackle.

Education and Experience

I have always strived to achieve the best academic results, not only for personal satisfaction, but mostly because I have always considered that the work done will be useful later, and that even knowledge that appears to be useless can find meaning in a future context. Obviously my academic career has been led by my passion for science and space. Nevertheless I have done my best to stay open-minded and I have never neglected other parts of the proposed courses. For instance, I participated in a national history competition when I was 16 years old and was awarded a prize for my dissertation about the protection of the Jews during World War II.

After receiving my high-school diploma and winning fourth place in a Physics national competition in 2008, I went into the French “classes préparatoires” (a two-year undergraduate intensive program to prepare competitive entrance exam into French graduate schools) to prepare the entrance exam into the ENS (“Ecoles Normales Supérieures”) which are the three best French schools to become a teacher and/or researcher. I was accepted into these schools but I rapidly understood that this school did not match my aims, for it took me away from the space field, and I resigned. Even though my academic results allowed me to go to the best scientific schools in France, I have chosen to go to Supaéro, the leading French Graduate School of Aerospace Engineering.

Two years ago I took the major Astrophysics and this year majors linked with the space field. I have now been the president of the school’s Astronomy Club for a year. Furthermore, being in Supaéro has given me the opportunity to work on a project managed by ESA, the European Space Agency, in addition to my university classes. I joined the ESEO and ESMO missions, which stands for the European Student Earth/Moon Orbiter. Our team had to design, build, and integrate their stellar sensor.

During my summer internship last year, I also worked at the French Pic Du Midi Observatory based in the French Pyrenees. One part of my job was to debug the pointing program of the Bernard Lyot Telescope (2-meter diameter), which is the biggest telescope in metropolitan France.

My chance to take part in the Academy this year will not only be an amazing opportunity to improve my technical skills, but also to improve my teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, especially as a part of an international team.

Future plans:

After the summer program, I will have the opportunity to intern at NASA Ames for another 4 months. Then, I will be return to France for a 6 months internship in Toulouse. I am pursuing an Aerospace Engineering diploma from ISAE-SUPAERO, and will graduate in 2014 with a research Master of Science in Astrophysics. After my graduation, I would like to apply for a PhD in Astrophysics, certainly with a focus in Astrobiology.

Extracurricular Activities

I have been playing the piano since the age of seven and it was with pleasure that I chose to take part in the concerts at the end of year in my high school. I also played tennis for three years and rode horses for nine years. I also used to play building games (the famous LEGO!) and then video games with my two little brothers.

For my hobbies, I love reading, especially fantasy or astronomy magazines, playing cards with friends and driving. As an amateur astronomer, astronomy also takes up a huge part of my free time. I have owned two telescopes for many years, and I practice astrophotography as often as I can.