Daniela Calzetti

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2020)


Daniela Calzetti is an astronomer recognized for her investigations on the interstellar dust and star formation in external galaxies. Her main contribution is the characterization of the transfer of electromagnetic radiation through dust in star-forming galaxies; this has significant implications for the information that can be derived from observations. Calzetti was born in Parma (Italy) and obtained her PhD at the University of Rome in 1992. In 1990, she became first an ESA Fellow and then a postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.). Here, she was hired as an astronomer in 1995, and worked on characterizing and supporting instrumentation on the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. In 2007, she moved to a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she is serving as the Head of the Astronomy Department since 2018. In 2013, she was named the Blaauw Professor at the Kapteyn Observatory (University of Gröningen, The Netherlands), and in 2016 she was awarded the Tage Erlander Guest Professorship by the Swedish Research Council, which she spent at the University of Stockholm (Sweden). Calzetti was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2020.

Research Interests

Daniela Calzetti’s research centers on extragalactic star formation and its characterization as a driver of galaxy evolution. She studies the interface between the newly formed stars and the surrounding interstellar medium, and the transfer of electromagnetic radiation in the environment of star-forming galaxies. Her early focus on how interstellar dust affects the measurable properties of stellar populations led to the development of methodologies for removing the effects of dust dimming in galaxy observations. This result has enabled the mitigation of a major obstacle in the reconstruction of the properties of evolving galaxies.  Calzetti also investigates the use of dust emission, as well as stellar emission, for quantifying the level of star formation activity in galaxies, employing multiwavelength data from the ultraviolet to the radio. She has recently expanded her interests to the study of the physical processes that convert gas and dust to stars, using observations from both space missions and ground-based facilities. In particular, she is interested in the role of the galactic environment in regulating star formation, and how changing environmental conditions have driven the evolution of the star formation and, as a consequence, of galaxies across cosmic times.

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