Support Scientist

Dr. Julien H. Girard joined STScI in August 2017 to be part of the JWST and Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope adventures. NIRCam team member, he's the hub for Coronagraphy and works at integrating all tools into an end to end workflow. He quickly took over the Lead of the Coronagraphs Working Group (April 2018 - present). For the Roman Space Telescope, Dr. Girard acts as Liaison for the CGI (coronagraphic) instrument with the two Science Investigation Teams (SITs).

Dr. Girard holds a PhD (2005) in Physics and Astrophysics from Université Claude Bernard (Lyon, France) for his work on the polychromatic laser guide star concept for Adaptive Optics (AO). He received a Master's in Science (Instrumentation Physics) from the University of Utah in 2000 as well as a 2nd Master's in Astrophysics from Grenoble University in 2001. Dr. Girard was awarded the UNAM Postdoctoral Fellowship (2006-2008) and was Assistant Professor at IPN-ESFM, teaching optics to undergraduate students for a total of 3 years spent in Mexico City. In August 2009 Girard joined the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and was, during 8 years Operations Staff Astronomer spending his time between Santiago and the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama desert, northern Chile. ​AO Specialist, he was appointed Lead Instrument Scientist of the extremely productive VLT instruments SPHERE and NACO and took part in countless commissioning and upgrade activities, determinant to many scientific achievements. He spent over 900 nights observing with 10 different VLT instruments, and was often nighttime or daytime Shift Coordinator of the whole observatory.

Instrumentation and operations inclined, Dr. Girard's research focuses Today on constraining the formation and migration mechanisms of giant extrasolar planets and brown dwarf companions in young and dusty circumstellar environments (e.g proto-planetary disks). For that, he uses high angular/contrast direct imaging eventually combined with polarimetry and/or spectroscopy techniques to search for and characterize exoplanetary systems. A team player, he has been part of many of the recent discoveries and has authored or co-authored over 90 papers in scholarly journals, and has given numerous conference presentations and colloquia.

Dr. Girard finds it extremely motivating to mentor students and postdocs, gather people towards the most rewarding human experience and the best possible scientific outcome. Dr. Girard has served on the Gemini Chilean National Time Allocation Committee (2015-2017) and regularly reviews articles in journals such as ApJ, AJ, MNRAS, A&A, RevMexA. He has taught Adaptive Optics lectures at several summer schools for young researchers. Member of the SPHERE GTO effort, Dr. Girard is an Affiliate Researcher at the Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble (IPAG), external member to the NACO ISPY GTO team led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg as well as team member of the VORTEX Project lead by the Université de Liège. He enjoys public outreach and he's one of the ESO Photo Ambassadors.


PhD in Physics & Astrophysics, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon
MS in Astrophysics, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble
MS in Physics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City
BS in Physics, Université de Savoie, Annecy


Science Interests:

  • Exoplanets, Brown Dwarfs Proto-planetary Disks
  • High Contrast Imaging, Adaptive Optics, Coronagraphy
  • Astronomical Instrumentation and Observing Techniques/Strategies


Research Topics: Star Formation, Histories, and Evolution; Exoplanets; Instrumentation; High Contrast Imaging; Adaptive Optics; Coronagraphy; Brown Dwarfs; Circumstellar Disks; Multiple Stars


Professional Websites:

Professional Website

Cosmic Diary


ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8627-0404

To contact one of our research staff members
please call 410-338-4700 or view the index for their email alias