Karín Menéndez-Delmestre


Astrophysicist Karín Menéndez-Delmestre, a recipient of the prestigious 2015 L’Oréal UNESCO ABC Prize for Women in Science in the realm of physical sciences, is committed to deciphering one of the universe’s most profound enigmas: dark matter. Born in Puerto Rico to a French mother and a Cuban father, Karín’s multicultural upbringing has made her fluent in four languages. Currently a professor at the Valongo Observatory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Karín pursued her physics studies at McGill University in Canada. She earned her doctorate in astronomy from the renowned California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the United States and completed her post-doctoral studies at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, USA. As a scientist, her primary goal is to chart the influence of dark matter’s gravitational pull within the Milky Way and predict its future impact on our galaxy.


Delving into the Enigma of Dark Matter: Unraveling its mysteries on galactic and extragalactic scales
Science / Physics

The irrefutable existence of dark matter was established just over half a century ago when astronomer Vera Rubin studied the orbits of stars and gases in galaxies. Today, we understand that it constitutes 85% of the universe’s matter. My research is centered around deciphering the hints that the distribution of stars in galaxies provides about the dispersion of dark matter, and investigating how remote galaxies amalgamate to form the universe’s largest structures, known as galaxy clusters. By integrating these two focus areas, I aim to concurrently comprehend the influence of dark matter on scales ranging from the “small” hundreds of light-years to the colossal scales exceeding 1 million light-years. The task of demystifying the nature of dark matter requires a collaborative effort encompassing observational and computational astrophysics, as well as experimental and theoretical physics. As an observational astrophysicist, my role involves analyzing and quantitatively characterizing the impact of dark matter on ordinary matter, thereby aiding the advancement of pioneering experiments designed to uncover the nature of one of the most profound enigmas of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Amount invested

1st phase: R$ 100,000.00
2nd phase: R$ 1,000,000.00 (R$ 700,000.00 + R$ 300,000.00 optional bonus for the integration and training of people from underrepresented groups in science)
R$ 10,000.00 (maternity grant)

Open Calls

Science Call 1
  • Topics
  • Black holes
  • dark matter
  • Galaxy
  • Star
  • Universe