Dr Annelies Mortier Mmath, MSci, PhD, FRAS

Dr Annelies Mortier

School of Physics and Astronomy
Assistant professor in Astronomy

Annelies is an Assistant Professor in astronomy. She is an observational astronomer playing with stars and exoplanets. She works on the detection and characterisation of (small) exoplanets, currently mostly using the HARPS-N spectrograph and preparing to use the HARPS3 spectrograph. She studies the link between planetary and stellar parameters, focusing mainly on chemical composition. Annelies also studies the Sun-as-a-star to understand the processes behind stellar variability and their effect on radial velocity.


  • PhD in Astronomy, University of Porto, 2013
  • MSci in Astronomy - research track, University of Leiden, 2010
  • Academic Teacher’s qualification, University of Ghent, 2006
  • BMath and MMath, theoretical physics and astronomy, University of Ghent, 2006


Annelies followed a non-conventional path. She has worked as a high-school teacher in Belgium after her first Masters study in Mathematics, with a focus on theoretical physics and astronomy. Wanting to explore nature’s big questions, she went back to the University where she studied for a 2-year Masters in Astronomy at the University of Leiden following a research track and writing her first paper as a result of her final project on young stellar objects.

She moved on to a PhD at the University of Porto, completing in December 2013. During her PhD she started enjoying the observational side of astronomical research regularly going on trips to Chile to observe with HARPS. Her PhD research was focused mostly on stellar atmospheric parameters and the connection between giant planets and stellar chemical composition.

After obtaining her PhD, Annelies was a postdoctoral researcher at the Universities of Porto and St Andrews where she started going to La Palma to observe with HARPS-N and focusing more on the exoplanet detection side. During the academic year 2017-2018, she was a lecturer for the widening participation programme for Scottish physics students at the University of St Andrews.

In autumn 2018, she moved to the University of Cambridge for a senior Kavli Institute Fellowship, further exploring small exoplanet characterisation as well as expanding her research into stellar variability and Sun-as-a-star observations. In Summer 2022, she moved to the University of Birmingham as an assistant professor in astronomy.

Annelies is a science team member of HARPS-N, HARPS3, and PLATO. She has obtained telescope time on a variety of ground-based and space-based telescopes and regularly performs the observations. She has served (as member and chair) in the OPTICON time allocation committee for 4 years and in the NASA-NSF Working Group on Extremely Precise Radial Velocities for 2 years. She is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as the European Astronomical Society.

Postgraduate supervision

PhD supervision in exoplanet detection, radial velocity extraction, Sun-as-a-star studies, and stellar atmospheres.


  • Sun-as-a-star and stellar variability
  • Exoplanet detection and mass characterisation
  • Radial velocity extraction from spectra
  • Chemical connection between stars and exoplanets
  • Stellar atmosphere characterisation

Other activities

  • Chair of OPTICON CTAC for 4 seasons (June 2020 - June 2022)
  • Member of EPRV Working group for NASA-NSF (2019 - 2021)
  • Member of ISSI Team: Towards Earth-like alien worlds: Know thy star, know thy planet (2018 - 2019)
  • Member of OPTICON CTAC for 4 seasons (June 2018 - June 2020)
  • Member of the HARPS3 Science Working Group and Terra Hunting Experiment (2018 - present)
  • Member of the HARPS-N Science Team (2014 - present)
  • Member of the PLATO Science Team (2019 - present) - involved in WP 115100 (Stellar variability)