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Curriculum Vitae 

Name: Paul Bristow PhD,BSc Date of Birth: **/**/71
Place of Birth: Oxford, UK. Nationality: British/Deutsch
Marital Status: Married to Christine Current Position: Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist
Home Address: **** **,
****, München,
Work Address: Instrument Systems Department, Office 316, ESO,
Karl-Schwarzschild Straße, 2,
Garching bei München,

Email: URL: Twitter Feed: bristowp

Current Position

Instrumentation Engineer/Physicist in the Instrument Systems Department (INSY) within the Directorate for Engineering at ESO. I am involved in the development, implementation, testing and scientific verification of advanced model based calibration techniques. In particular I am concerned with the model algorithms, optimisation routines, pipeline implementation (through collaboration with the Pipeline Systems Department) and graphical aids. Other activities include investigating upgrade possibilites for existing instruments and systems engineering aspects of proposed new instruments.

All of these activities lead to my involvement in a number of instrumentation projects for ESO's Very Large Telescope, currently: CRIRES+, MATISSE and CUBES

Much of this work involves detailed understanding of the data reduction pipelines and C coding to produce functions that will interface with pipelines written in ESO's Common Pipeline Library. To this end I recently attended a one week C course at Learning Tree International, I scored 90% in the end of course assessment.

Another significant activity in recent years has been representing the Instrumentation division at the Information Technology User Group and maintaining instrument development related web pages.

Last Position

Hubble Space Telescope Science Archive Software Specialist at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in the Space Telescope European Co-ordinating Facility (ST-ECF) Instrument Physical Modeling group (IPMG). The IPMG is responsible for the Calibration Enhancement (CE) project, which aims to enhance the ostensibly empirical data reduction pipelines developed at the Space Telescope Science Institue (STScI) by the addition of physically motivated solutions to specific calibration problems.

I worked in particular on the flat fielding and dark current corrections for the Faint Object Spectrograph and developed a model to remove the effects of imperfect charge transfer efficiency in Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) CCD data (in principal applicable to other space based CCD detectors). I was also involved in the development of a model based wavelength calibration, this is the technique which we are now porting to ESO instruments (see Current Position).

In addition I worked on solutions to miscellaneous coding problems arising in other aspects of the CE project, e.g. the automatic identification and classification of spectral lines from laboratory measurements of calibration lamps. In addition I maintained the web pages.

Our instrument modelling work for HST was recognised in 2006 by a NASA "Public Service Group Achievement Award". (details to follow)

Previous Positions

  • Scientific Assistant/Technical Writer in the Operational Research Department at NATO's SACLANT Undersea Research Centre (now CMRE) in La Spezia, Italy. I was  involved in the development of a computer based operational decision aid. I worked on many aspects of the project including environmental database generation, search algorithms, testing and documentation. In April 1999 I attended a two-week intensive "Post Experience" course in "Underwater Acoustics and Sonar Systems".
  • Web site developer for FINET World Wide Web Design. Design and implementation of website packages for clients in the entertainment industry. Consequently I gained experience with HTML, CGI scripts and Microsoft's Frontpage97.
  • I spent five months in Munich working at ESO in the ST-ECF archive group. I was involved in a project which refined the Wide Field and Planetary Camera II archive data pipeline so that it incorporated the cosmic ray removal of associated HST exposures. The work involved manipulation of databases (SQL), automating data reduction procedures (IRAF, Perl) and providing a service to users via the internet. This project has been subsequently developed as the ``WFPC2 Associations Project'', an early step in the direction of the virtual observatory concept.



1992-1996: In October '96 I had my PhD thesis in Astrophysics accepted and was granted an unconditional pass. The first two years of research were conducted at University of Wales, College of Cardiff, but the work was completed at Bristol University, I officially graduated from Cardiff. My thesis title was ``Simulating Faint Galaxy Fields.'' The research involved Monte-Carlo style simulations of galaxy populations leading to simulated data which can be compared to real observations. The software has been used to constrain parameters describing the underlying large scale galaxy distribution.


1989-1992: BSc (Hons) in Astrophysics (First Class), University of Wales, College of Cardiff. Awarded Selby Scholarship for performance in first year. Final year project involved the simulation of infra red emission from dust in the disc of our galaxy.


1985-1989: Cheney Secondary School, Headington, Oxford.
1989 `A' Levels: Mathematics A, Physics A, Further Mathematics B.
1987 `O' Levels: Mathematics A, English B, Physics A, Geography A, Chemistry B, History, B, Art C, Technical Drawing C


1994-2010: I have had a number of academic papers published in refereed and non refereed journals. In addition I am the author of a number of HST Instrument Science Reports and have refereed papers submitted to peer reviewed journals.



I regularly use the following languages/applications;
  • C
  • Plotting packages such as Xgobi and SM
  • FITS data
  • LaTeX
  • MS Office
  • Simulated Annealing Optimisation

I also have some experience (either occasional use in my current work or regular use in the past) with; 
  • CGI and shell scripts
  • SQL
  • Matlab
  • FTP/SSH/SFTP etc.
  • IDL
  • Corel Draw
  • MS-DOS
  • Delphi 4 (Object Pascal)
  • VMS
  • Zemax (Optical Modelling)

Language Skills

  • I have previously lived and worked in Italy for two years and learnt to read, write, speak and understand Italian. I also taught English as a foreign language while I was in Italy 
  • I have been living and working in Germany for more than ten years. I can read, write, speak and understand German. 


  • At ESO I work on projects in collaboration with teams from institutes across Europe and around the World.
  • I have superved a German physics student's "Practikum" project.
  • I have supervised and marked the work from preliminary year physics lab classes and first year Astronomy exercise classes.
  • I have also marked the work from a second year theoretical physics course. 
  • I have gained leadership/motivational experience in my involvement with athletics, see below


        I occasionally visit ESO's Paranal observatory to work on instrument projects that I am involved with. I have spent two fortnights at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma operating the HitchHiker parallel Camera on the William Herschel Telescope

Other Work

    1992: Order Administrator, Research Machines, Oxford.
    1986-1995: Various shop sales work to finance my studies.


        Full UK Drivers License since 1988. No penalty points. Plenty of experience in left and right hand drive vehicles both in the UK and mainland Europe. I also have considerable experience of driving passenger minibuses in the UK and abroad.

Aptitude Test

        In 1997 I scored 90% in the BIS Parity Test


  • Running: I am involved in track and field athletics and cross country running at many levels. I was an active member of Cardiff University Running Club for 5 years (awarded colours in 91 and 95), captaining it in '93/4. As captain I organised trips to races in Paris and many destinations in the UK along with training programmes, social events and a 24 hour, 200 mile sponsored relay run across Wales in aid of `Children in Need'. I have since helped with the organisation of Bristol University Track and Field Club (awarded half colours in '95). I have competed for my home club, Oxford City AC, in all age groups, receiving the ``Senior Men's track athlete of the year'' award in 1992. Since then I have competed for Cardiff AAC, whom I represented in Divisions 1&2 of the British Athletics League, Trionfo Ligure in Italy and (currently) LG SWM München in Germany. In 2003 I won the Arge-Alpe Indoor meeting while representing Bavaria in February, then in August I won a bronze medal in the Southern German championships. At the end of the year I received the Men's Athlete of the year award from LG München. In 2011 I won the British Veteran's M40 800m Gold and in 2012 the World Masters Indoor M40 800m Gold. Previously I have reached the English Schools finals, represented Southern England and won a bronze medal in the British Students Indoor Championships 800m. I have also tested running shoes for Adidas.
  • Other Sports : I take part in many other sports (football,snowboarding, skiing, mountain-biking, orienteering, basketball, roller-blading, skateboarding etc.) at a somewhat less competitive level.
  • Travelling : I have ``backpacked'' around mainland Europe several times, I currently enjoy travelling for work in Europe, the US and Chile. Recently I snowboarded in the Indian Himalayas and in the Andes and attended conferences in Tokyo, Victoria (Canada), New Mexico, Hawaii, California, and Cozumel (Mexico), taking the opportunity to explore the surroundings on these occasions.
  • I am the proud father of two children: Amber (born 2007) and Luxon (born 2012)