During his school years, Alexander volunteered as a Boy Scout leader, fire-fighter and water rescue lifeguard. As a student, from 1998 to 2003, he participated in various international scientific collaborations and field experiments. Several of these expeditions led him to remote locations such as Antarctica where he installed scientific instruments.
Between 2001 and 2003, while researching his master’s thesis on a volcano in New Zealand, Alexander developed new volcano monitoring techniques that may improve volcanic eruption forecasting. The results were published in Science Magazine.
Alexander worked on developing scientific instruments at the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Hamburg between 2004 and 2009.
From 2005 to 2009, while at the Institute of Geophysics, he also worked towards his doctorate, investigating volcanic eruption dynamics on active volcanoes. His research goal was to determine the mechanics and the energy released during the first seconds of a volcanic eruption. His research led him to visit volcanoes on all continents, concentrating on an active volcano in Antarctica. In 2007 Alexander received the Bernd Rendel award for outstanding research from the DFG German Research Foundation.
After being selected as an ESA astronaut candidate in May 2009, Alexander officially joined ESA in September 2009 and completed Astronaut Basic Training in November 2010.
Read more about Alex and his Horizons mission at blogs.esa.int/alexander-gerst/