Martin Dominik is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the School of Physics & Astronomy of the University of St Andrews. He completed his doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) at the University of Dortmund (Germany) in 1996, where he was dragged from theoretical physics into astronomy with new developments in the emerging field of 'gravitational lensing', i.e. the gravitational bending of light. Martin subsequently worked at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore (MD, U.S.A), supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and as Marie Curie Fellow at the Kapteyn Institute of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands). A serious medical condition encountered in 2000 meant that he had to start re-building his career with the move to St Andrews in 2003. Since 1993, Martin's research has focused on applications of the gravitational microlensing effect, and in particular on its potential for studying planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. His work as a team co-leader was essential for detecting OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb, which, with estimated 5 Earth masses, was considered to be the least massive extra-solar planet orbiting a star known at the time of the announcement of this discovery, and provided the first observational hint that Earth-like planets are common in the Universe. Martin is a strong advocate of communication being an essential part of science, and science being an integral part of society. He turned the hunt for planets by gravitational microlensing into a public live event, and most prominently showcased this at the 2008 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, where he engaged with visitors in debates about the detection of extra-terrestrial life and the role of humankind in the Universe.
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