18-20 October 2023, Cuenca, Spain

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Antonia M. Varela

Managing Director of the Starlight Foundation since January 2019, PhD in Astrophysics and Researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) since 1988. She developed her doctoral thesis in the field of Extragalactic Astrophysics at the IAC and at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris. She is a member of the IAC staff as a Senior Engineer, a member of the IAC Sky Quality Group since its creation and of the Star Formation Group. The Sky Quality Group is responsible for positioning the observatories of the Canary Islands among the best places in the world for astronomical observation.

It has published over a hundred publications in scientific journals and contributions to national and international congresses, as well as more than 700 contributions to popular science and the press. She has participated in 22 national and international R&D projects. She has refereed articles for international Astrophysics Research journals and is a project advisor for the National Agency for Evaluation and Foresight (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Prospectiva). Some outstanding works have been the site selection for the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC 10.4m) and the participation in the site selection committees of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), and more recently in the site selection of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

She has received the Research Career Award from the Excelentísimo Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz de Tenerife in March 2019; Award for her work in the cultural dissemination of astronomy, in the protection of the night sky and tourist quality of territories in July 2019 by the UNESCO Geopark of Villuercas-Ibores-Jara; and she has recently obtained the Science and Innovation Award from the Revista Más Mujer in March 2020.

Advisor and auditor of 19 Starlight Reserves and Tourist Destinations, sky quality certification granted by the Starlight Foundation and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) among other international organisations; director and teacher of numerous courses for Starlight Guides, Monitors and Auditors. The Starlight Foundation has recently won the LuxLife Global Hospitality Awards for the defence of astrotourism 2019 and the I FiturNext 2020 Challenge Award for its high replicability and positive impact on local economic development, an award obtained from among more than 250 best practices from over 50 countries.

She has more than 32 years of teaching experience in university courses, starting 22 years ago as a professor of Astronomy at the University for Adults and Seniors of the University of La Laguna, implementing the Astronomy Tourism module ten years ago. This programme has received several awards for the Human Values Award from the Cabildo de Tenerife 2007 and the Solidarity with the Elderly Award from the Government of the Canary Islands in the category of Non-Profit Institutions or Entities 2013, coinciding with the Day of the Elderly.

She is a science communicator and since 2010 she has also been Head of the Multimedia Service of the IAC. She actively participates in conferences and courses related to gender equality in science and technology, is part of the group of Women Scientists and Technologists of the Canary Islands nominated by the Government of the Canary Islands, member of Mujeres Influyentes de Canarias by the Spanish Women Talent Foundation and of the group of Mujeres Influyentes Charter 100.

She is a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), of the Spanish Society of Astronomy (SEA), of the Spanish Network of Studies on Light Pollution (REECL), Coordinator of the Climate and Air Quality Commission of the Climate Change Observatory of the Government of the Canary Islands, she leads with the Starlight Foundation the Working Group on Science Tourism/astro-tourism of Affiliate Members of the UNWTO constituted in September 2009.

She is currently a member of the Scientific Committee organising the Dark & Quiet Sky Conference promoted by COPUOS (United Nations Committee for the Protection of Outer Outer Space) and co-chair of the Working Group Dark Sky Oases.

All Sessions by Antonia M. Varela