Loaded with much excitement and many questions, I entered the graduate program at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. There I joined the research group led by Fabian Walter that performed the THINGS and HERACLES surveys. With the Very Large Array (VLA) and the IRAM 30m telescope we obtained the first large sample of sensitive, resolved maps of the atomic and molecular medium in nearby galaxies. I spend many weeks at the IRAM 30m (in southern Spain) as part of the HERACLES survey and started admiring the beauty and power of millimeter and radio spectroscopic observations. In 2011, I received my PhD for studies of the distribution of molecular gas and its connection to star formation in nearby galaxies; work honored by the Patzer prize for the best publication by a student.
My first postdoctoral appointment was at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles, USA. Caltech has been at the forefront of astronomical research in the optical, infrared, and radio ever since. It was a great honor and unforgettable experience to work, collaborate, and develop in this environment. There I became a prime user of CARMA, a millimeter interferometer in the Inyo mountains range north of Death Valley that sadly is defunctioned nowadays. With CARMA I mapped the molecular gas in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy at an unprecedented resolution and sensitivity for extragalactic surveys and detected 500 molecular clouds similar to the solar neighborhood Orion molecular cloud but at a distance of 2.5 Million light years.
Since 2013, I have a postdoctoral position in the Infrared Group at the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics in Garching near Munich, Germany. This group has a long standing lead in characterizing star-forming galaxies at high redshift and combines unique instrumentation and observational work at near-infrared, far-infrared, and millimeter wavelengths. Being part of this group provides the great opportunity to link my studies of nearby galaxies to the properties of galaxies in the early universe. At the same time, as the level of detail that can be studied in nearby galaxies is greatly improved by ALMA, NOEMA, and JVLA, I am also relating my work to detailed studies within the Milky Way. Furthermore, I am greatly enjoying discussions with theorists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and observers at the European Southern Observatory, that are both next door.