Francesca D'Antona

Astronomer and grandmother, keen on science, science outreach and education

Born in Messina in 1948,  graduated in Physics from 1970, and in Mathematics from 1972 (University of Rome "La Sapienza"), she worked from 1974 to 2011 as Astronomer at the Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma (now INAF-OAR). From 1972 she is married with Italo Mazzitelli, who has been a researcher in astrophysics too. When young, she managed to balance astrophysics with growing up three children. Now, after retirement, she still attempts to balance astrophysics with duties as a grandmother. Her main field of activity is stellar structure and evolution. She contributed to the understanding of the phases of life of low and intermediate mass stars, starting from the first contraction of the forming stars (pre-main-sequence) ending with the latest white dwarf cooling stages. Her attention has been also focused on the role of key elements in the galactic evolution, such as Lithium and Helium. She worked on the mass-exchange evolution of binaries with a component white dwarf or neutron star, in particular in the nova systems, the low mass X--ray and in the millisecond pulsar binaries. Her work on multiple populations of Globular Clusters, starting 2001, is still continuing, in collaboration with active researchers in the field. She is co-author of more than 350 scientific publications, with more than 10000 citation in the astronomical literature.