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Graca Rocha

Photo of Graca Rocha


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 169-327

Pasadena, CA 91109


(818) 393-0095


(818) 354-8895

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Astrophysics & Space Sciences

Deputy Section Manager : Principal Research Scientist


Dr. Graça Rocha is a Staff Scientist at JPL and Associate Academic Visitor at Caltech. Her area of expertise is Cosmology, more specifically constraining models of structure formation and fundamental physics with the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, CMB.

As a PhD student at Cambridge University, UK, she pioneered the use of CMB data to determine cosmological parameters, now one of the most important areas in Cosmology.  Later on she pioneered the use of CMB data to constrain fundamental physics by means of constraining temporal variations in the fundamental constants of nature. She played an important role on several CMB experiments: Tenerife, Python, CAT, VSA, BICEP and Planck.

She is a Planck Scientist, Coordinator of three Planck core areas and Co-author of several innovative mathematical and statistical frameworks for CMB data analysis. In addition, she was the spokesperson for the Planck team at the Planck Plenary Session at ESLAB, Netherlands in 2013.

She is currently very active in pursuing the preparatory studies for next CMB polarization experiments such as CMB-S4 and of a potential CMB Space mission, PICO. In addition, she is pursuing research in the area concerned with detection and characterization of Exoplanets in spectroscopic data, direct imaging data, and with radial velocity technique.

In 2018 Graca Rocha and the Planck team were awarded the prestigious Gruber Prize in Cosmology.


  • Licenciatura in Mathematics (Pure Mathematics), University of Porto (1987)
  • Licenciatura in Physics and Applied Mathematics, Astronomy, University of Porto (1991)
  • M.Sc. in Astrophysics, QMW College, University of London (1992)
  • PhD. in Cosmology, Cavendish Astrohysics Group, University of Cambridge (1997)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    • Deputy Section Manager, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Section, (2021–present)
    • Principal Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL (2020-present)
    • Discipline Program Manager, Astronomy & Heliophysics Research and Analysis Office (712), under the auspices of 7000 (2020-present)
    • Group Supervisor of the 'Origin of the Universe' group (3268), JPL (2019-2021)
    • Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL (2009-present)
    • Group Supervisor of the 'Evolution of Galaxies' group, JPL (2011-2012)
    • Co-I of PICO (Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins) Study (2017-2019)
    • Physics of the Cosmos Program Analysis Group (PhysPAG)  Executive Committee (EC) Vice-chair (2017-2020)
    • PhysPAG Inflation Probe Science Interest Group (IPSIG) Co-chair (2017-2020)
    • PhysPAG Cosmic Structure Science Interest Group (COSSIG) Co-chair (2017-2020)
    • Member of the peer review committee of the NASA's Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP) in the Large Scale Cosmic Structure" research area (2016)
    • Member of the peer review committee of NASA proposals submitted in response to the MUREP Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO), formerly University Research Centers (2015)
    • Member of the peer review committee of the Discovery Grants' Physics Evaluation Group at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) ( 2013 – 2016)
  • Visiting Associate in Physics, Division of Physics Mathematics and Astronomy, in the California Institute of Technology, Caltech (2016 – present)
  • Visiting scholar in the Division of Physics Mathematics and Astronomy, Observational Cosmology group, Caltech (2009 - 2016)
  • Staff Scientist at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, IPAC, Caltech (2006-2009)
  • Postdoctoral Scholar in Physics at the Observational Cosmology Group, Caltech, (2005).
  • Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cavendish Astrophysics Group, University of Cambridge (2000-2005)
  • Research Associate at the Center for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) (2001 - present)
  • Academic Visitor at the University of Oxford (2000 - present)
  • Lecturer, University of Porto (1998)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) (1998 - 2000)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physics, Kansas State University (1997 -1998)

Research Interests

  • Physical Cosmology
  • Cosmic Background Radiation
  • Large-Scale Structure of the Universe
  • Galaxy Formation and evolution
  • Gravitational Lenses
  • Non Gaussianity
  • Topology of the Universe
  • Teories with varying fundamental constants
  • Computational Astrostatistics
  • Structure of, and Science Extraction from Large Astronomical DataRepositories
  • Detection and characterization of Exoplanets in spectroscopic data, direct imaging data, and with radial velocity technique

Selected Awards

Honor Awards

  • 2019 Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi Prize to Planck and WMAP
  • Marcel Grossman Institutional Award to the Planck Scientific Collboration
  • 2018 Gruber Prize in Cosmology awarded to the Planck team and its Principal Investigators Nazzareno Mandolesi and Jean-Loup Puget
  • Royal Astronomical Society's 2018 Group Achievement Award to Planck mission

NASA Honor Awards

  • Exceptional Achievement Medal (2014)
  • Herschel & Planck Projects Teams - Group Achievement Award, Herschel & Planck Projects (2011)
  • Planck Data Analysis and Operations Support Team - Group Achievement Award, Planck Data Analysis and Operations Support Team, Successful Achievement of Planck Minimum Mission (2011)
  • Early Release Compact Source Catalogue Team - Group Achievement Award, Successful Early Delivery to the European Processing Centers of the Plack Early Release Compact Source Catalogue (2011)
  • Planck Data Analysis Team - Group Achievement Award (2009)
  • Planck Data Analysis Pipeline Development Team - Group Achievement Award (2009)
  • BICEP Experiment Team - Group Achievement Award (2009)

JPL Awards

  • Voyager Award, 2023
  • Planck 2018 Science team - Team Bous award for extraordinary contributions to our understanding of the origin of the Universe by innovative and thorough analysis of Planck 2018 Legacy data (2019)
  • Bonus Award, Science Red Team Pilot Studies, Team Bonus Award, 2018
  • Mariner Award - Bonus Award for leading a team to calculate cosmological parameters from the CMB with different foreground removal methods, demonstrating robustness of estimates (2013)
  • Mariner Award - Bonus Award for essential contributions to the Planck data analysis environment (2012)
  • Planck Effective Beamshape Team - Team Bonus Award for the Development and Implementation of Software to Calculate the Effective Beamshape of the Planck Feeds for Early Release Compact Source Catalog (2011)
  • Planck Data Analysis Team - Team Bonus Award for the development and verification of Planck data analysis tools to enable cross correlation checks of data from different sky surveys for both LFI and HFI (2011)

Selected Publications


Hobson, M.P., Rocha, G., Savage, R.S., 2010. Chapter: Bayesian source extraction. Bayesian Methods in Cosmology 167.

Selected Publications

  1. Lacy, Mark et al. (incl. G. Rocha), 2019. Direct detection of quasar feedback via the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect.
    ScienceNews article:
    2. Hanany, Shaul et al. (incl. G. Rocha), 2019. PICO: Probe of Inflation and Cosmic Origins.
    3. Planck Collaboration; (incl. G. Rocha), 2018. Planck 2018 results.Planck 2018 results. VI. Cosmological parameters
    4. Planck Collaboration; (incl. G. Rocha), 2018. Planck 2018 results. IV. Diffuse component separation.
    5. Planck Collaboration; (incl. G. Rocha), 2018. Planck 2018 results. I. Overview and the cosmological legacy of Planck
    6. Iyer et al. (incl. G. Rocha), 2016. A Characteristic Transmission Spectrum Dominated by H$_{2}$O Applies to the Majority of HST/WFC3 Exoplanet Observations.
    7. Planck Collaboration et al. (corresponding author G. Rocha), 2015. Planck intermediate results. XXIV. Constraints on variations in
    fundamental constants.
    8. BICEP2/Keck Collaboration et al., (incl. G. Rocha) 2015. Joint Analysis of BICEP2/Keck Array and Planck Data.
    9. Carvalho, P., Rocha, G., Hobson, M.P., Lasenby, A., 2012. PowellSnakes II: a fast Bayesian approach to discrete object detection in
    multi-frequency astronomical data sets.
    10. Planck Collaboration et al., (incl. G. Rocha), 2011. Planck early results. VII. The Early Release Compact Source Catalogue.
    11. Rocha, G., Contaldi, C.R., Bond, J.R., Górski, K.M., 2011. Application of XFASTER power spectrum and likelihood estimator to
    12. Mitra, S., Rocha, G., Górski, K.M., et al., 2011. Fast Pixel Space Convolution for Cosmic Microwave Background Surveys with
    Asymmetric Beams and Complex Scan Strategies: FEBeCoP.
    13. Rocha, G., Contaldi, C.R., Colombo, L.P.L., Bond, J.R., Górski, K.M., Lawrence, C.R., 2010. Performance of Xfaster likelihood in real
    CMB experiments.
    14. Rocha, G., Pagano, L., Górski, K.M., Huffenberger, K.M., Lawrence, C.R., Lange, A.E., 2010. Markov chain beam randomization: a
    study of the impact of PLANCK beam measurement errors on cosmological parameter estimation.
    15. Chiang et al., (incl. G. Rocha), 2010. Measurement of Cosmic Microwave Background Polarization Power Spectra from Two Years of
    BICEP Data.


Planck Publications

U.S. Planck Team

ESLAB Symposium: Public Session: Planck Contribution to Cosmology