Mario De Pra is a postdoctoral fellow at the Florida Space Institute, under the supervision of Dr. Noemi Pinilla-Alonso. He is part of UCF’s Preeminent Postdoctoral Program. Mario’s research interest lies in characterizing minor body populations to help understand how planetary systems formed and evolved. In particular, the mapping of water ice and phyllosilicates across these populations can provide useful information about the thermal and dynamical history of the Solar System and how Earth’s oceans could have formed. Additionally, Mario’s work is integral to the preparation of the James Webb Space Telescope and for upcoming missions.
Mario’s interest in astronomy began when he was an undergraduate student of physics at the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo in Brazil. His interest solidified when he worked in educational outreach programs at the Gaturamo Observatorio Astronomico. Subsequently, he earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the Observatorio Nacional, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The focus of his dissertation was in the characterization of the minor body populations using different techniques and developing programming frameworks that would streamline characterization of these populations. He has experience in performing spectroscopic and photometric observations of asteroids with small to large-sized telescopes.