His Life

Vincent's biography

Vincent was born on the 22 of December 1979 in Ales, France, and spent his infancy in the Department of Lozere where his parents live.

He did his lower school (‘primaire’) in Sainte Croix Vallee Francaise, his middle school (‘college’) in Saint Etienne Vallee Francaise, and his high school (‘lycee’) in Mende. When a teenager, he got his first telescope (a Perl-Vixen) and enjoyed looking at the dark skies of Lozere. He also started playing drums at that age.

He started his university studies in Montpellier with a D.U.T. in Physics. He then moved on to University of Grenoble where he got a D.E.A. (‘Master in Physics for Instrumentation’) and then studied his PhD in the team of Jean-Paul Pique at the interdisciplinary laboratory of physics. His thesis was on ’Etude d'un laser sans mode de puissance pour la production d'étoiles laser’ (Study of a high power modeless laser for the production of laser guide star) and was successfully presented on the 22 of January 2007. In the lab, he was remembered as meticulous and hard-working, enthusiastic and a very friendly person.

Vincent joined the Gemini North Observatory, based in Hilo, Hawaii, on the 3rd of October 2007.

He was hired as a laser specialist to take care of the laser used for Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics. Vincent performed a thorough job to keep good maintenance and up-time of the laser. After some time, he was asked to start working on the Gemini South laser, under construction at Lockheed Martin Coherent Technologies in Colorado. Vincent spent several months there cross-training and doing end-to-end testing of the system before the acceptance and shipping. The shipping was to happen early March and was delayed due to a major earthquake in Chile on 27 February 2010.

Vincent finally arrived in Chile on March 23, 2010, and relocated to Gemini South in La Serena.

Since then, Vincent has been one of the key players of the GeMS team to commission the laser on the telescope. First laser light on the sky was obtained on 22 of January, 2011 at Cerro Pachon. This milestone was opening the era of laser guide star constellation for large telescopes. Several of the pictures presented in this memorial page date from this moment.

Vincent was promoted as laser and optical engineer. Vincent has been working on the continuous improvements of the laser, cross-training new people in the team and contributing to the long technical and science commissioning of this new facility, as well as the beginning of science operations since January 2013. He has been involved in other optical systems like the Beam Transfer Optics, also part of the Laser Guide Star Facility.

Lately Vincent was also involved as the Gemini optical engineer for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), which just went through its first technical run on the telescope (Nov 11-18). Unfortunately, Vincent’s tragic car accident happened the day before the run started so he has not witnessed the first results but the GPI team have kept him in their thoughts sharing their joy.

Vincent is remembered as friendly and intelligent, enjoying simplicity, a happy and true person, smiling and generous, lover of outdoors and passionate about ecology, interested in world politics and caring for social justice. He was a great photographer in particular of Mother Nature and all its creatures, and especially the birds. He was in love with Patagonia. Vincent played drums, enjoyed music in general, rock (Pink Floyd was one of his favorite band) and singer like the Chilean Chico Trujillo. Before the accident, he was preparing a photography exhibit, which his family shared with us after his departure. Vincent was a great colleague to all and will be deeply missed. He has left us a solid legacy on which we will continue building, and inspired us by sharing his usual happiness and sense of humor.