|Huib van Langevelde
| On October 26 Nikta Amiri successfully defended her thesis “Developing Asymmetries in AGB stars: Occurrence, Morphology and Polarization of Circumstellar masers”. In her thesis Nikta studied circumstellar masers with the VLBA, MERLIN, Effelsberg and Greenbank to understand how a-spherical planetary nebulae can evolve from AGB stars that show generally very symmetric mass-loss. Among other things, she demonstrated that even in the most pronounced AGB objects, the so-called OH/IR stars, magnetic fields (could/can/will/must) play an important role.
Nikta started her PhD in 2007 on the ESTRELA programme, working initially for JIVE with supervision from Huib van Langevelde and Wouter Vlemmings (then Bonn). Born in Iran, she got her masters from University of Manchester, before enrolling in the Leiden PhD programme. During her thesis work she lived part-time in Detroit Michigan, where her husband has a job. Countering this and a few more challenges, she managed to finish her PhD in four years.
How all of this was possible, was only revealed by the end of the day, when we learned that her modest (and on the day, a bit bit nervous) appearance is only a façade to hide SuperNikta. Looking at the photo’s showing her with “paranimfs” and supervisors you can see how hard it is for her to hide her real identity of astrophysical superhero. She is now applying her powers to find a postdoc position in the US and we are left with the proud feeling that SuperNikta once worked among us at JIVE!
|photos by Kalle Torstensson, artwork by Giorgia Busso