Prof. Thaisa Storchi Bergmann, 2015 Laureate for Latin America

Thaisa Storchi Bergmann was rewarded for her outstanding work leading to the understanding of how massive black holes form in the centers of galaxies, evolve and shape them.

Physics and Astronomy

Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Professor Storchi Bergmann’s worldwide reputation stems from her contributions to our understanding of supermassive black holes, those mysterious compact objects whose gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape from them.Among her groundbreaking discoveries, Professor Storchi-Bergmann was the first to discern the orbital movement of matter around a super-massive black hole at the center of a nearby galaxy, a major step in advancing our comprehension of their behavior. She has also shown how the black holes influence the evolution of the galaxies via the accretion and ejection of matter from its surroundings. Professor Storchi Bergmann’s discoveries constitute essential additions to our knowledge of these enigmatic phenomena, which hold the secrets to one of the deepest mysteries of the Universe: how do black holes change the course of galaxy history?


Emulating an older cousin she perceived as the ideal of an emancipated, intelligent woman making her own way in the world, Professor Storchi Bergmann originally planned to become an architect. Once at university, however, she realized that she was “following someone else’s dream.” Instead, she found herself fascinated by physics and astronomy and thrilled by labs filled with people “exploring the universe and asking questions about nature all day long.” No doubt this opportunity to open up to new learning possibilities – which she feels is denied to so many, especially in developing countries – motivates her belief that providing an education for all is the world’s greatest challenge. “From malnutrition to poverty to disrespect for the environment to extremist beliefs that lead to violence – education could go a long way in solving these problems. Teaching should be considered the most

important job in our societies.”

From malnutrition to poverty to disrespect for the environment to extremist beliefs that lead to violence - education could go a long way in solving these problems. Teaching should be considered the most important job in our societies.


It’s not surprising that a woman who took her infant son with her on a three-month mission to a foreign observatory, walking up and down a mountain several times a day to feed him, feels that a scientist can also be a good mother. Hence Professor Storchi Bergmann’s wholehearted advice to girls considering a research career but wondering whether it is compatible with family life:

 Go for it!

For Women in Science

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