I worked on my PhD in Astronomy (“Star formation: Interaction with molecular gas“) at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA) from 1988 to 1991 In 1992 I started working at the Department of Extragalactic Astronomy at IAA and performed a postdoc stay at the Observatoire de Marseille, where I collaborated with Albert Bosma and Lia Athanassoula, from the group “La dynamique des galaxies”. There I focused on the study of isolated galaxies with external rings. We also collaborated on the study of Hickson Compact Groups, in particular on the study of Hickson 96. I rejoined the IAA in 1994, where I have been working since then. After several contracts I got a permanent position in 1997, holding now the position of Scientific Researcher.
My main science research topics for the last years have been the study of the interstellar medium in galaxy evolution, analyzing two extreme environments: isolated galaxies and compact groups, focused on the ISM study of Hickson Compact Groups in different evolutionary stages, with a special emphasis in strongly HI deficient groups.
My work on compact groups solved the apparent contradictions about their star formation, demonstrating that it is not enhanced (Verdes-Montenegro et al 1998; 82 citations). Understanding this result is still subject of study by international groups through programs in e.g. XMM, Chandra, Herschel, Spitzer, CARMA, ALMA, using as a reference the evolutionary sequence proposed in Verdes-Montenegro et al (2001; 208 citations).
I am PI of the international collaboration AMIGA (Analysis of interstellar Medium in Isolated Galaxies; http://amiga.iaa.es, Verdes-Montenegro et al 2005, 121 citations) involving since 2003 more than 15 research groups abroad. I have also made a special effort to complement basic research with activities aimed to strengthen the participation of Spain in instrumental projects. This includes:
- Training of four instrumentalist scientists who have developed or are currently developing their work in three ALMA nodes and the SKA Office.
- Vicedirector for Technological Affairs for more than 2 years. During the same period I have been PI of the NIR camera PANIC for CAHA 2.2m telescope.
- Creation of a pioneer group for e-Science developments that, among others:
- lead the first e-Science initiative in Andalusia (2007-2010): e-CA Project
- built RADAMS, the first data model for radioastronomy archives integrated in the Virtual Observatory, and implemented in the international antennas IRAM-30m and DSS-63 from NASA (2012)
- Coordination of the “Astronomy” work package of the Wf4Ever project, an EC FP7 e-Science project (2010-2013).
- Coordination of the participation of Spain in the project since 2011, with the participation of 14 Spanish centers and universities.
- As a result, the Spanish scientific, technological and industrial communities are strategically positioned within the SKA project. Currently several Spanish researchers are involved in the SKA scientific groups, and ~ 120 researchers have participated in the Spanish SKA ‘White Book’ which reviews the scientific potential of Spain in SKA.
I have been designated by the Ministry as the Spanish Science Director in the SKA Board, Spanish representative in the SKA Regional Centre Steering Committee (SRCSC). I have also been Co-chair of the HI Science Working Group (advisor for the SKA Organization), member of the Board of the consortium for the design of the SKA Science Data Processor and the SKA Regional Centre Coordination Group. Since April 2020 I am Chair of the Science Archive Working Group of the SRCSC. I also was invited to Chair the “RadioNet review panel for Apertif archive and user portal”.
AMIGA is currently funded by the national grant “AMIGA7 Gas and magnetic fields at the extremes of galaxy environments with SKA precursors – From the SKA data flow design towards construction”, this project combines the Spanish technological groups currently involved in the Big Data processing of the SKA.