After studying Latin and maths at school, Jean-Claude Gérard decided to do a degree in physical science at ULg, with his teenage dream in mind: carrying out research and taking part in a space mission. After his studies, he began a PhD on polar lights, which led him to take part in campaigns to fire rocket probes from the Arctic in Scandinavia (Kiruna) and Canada (Hudson Bay), as well as staying a complete winter in Norway, north of the polar circle.
After presenting his PhD in April 1974, he went to the University of Colorado for two years to work on NASA's Pioneer-Venus mission, among other things. Once back in Belgium, he was offered a permanent post at the FNRS where he was eventually promoted to Director of Research. At the same time, he lectured in atmospheric sciences at ULg where he was appointed professor and, recently, special professor.
He headed the department of astrophysics, geophysics and oceanography (AGO) from its creation until 2009. He also chairs the scientific committee of the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy. J.-C. Gérard has published over 270 papers on the composition and evolution of the atmosphere of Earth and other planets, as well as on the interactions between the Sun and planets’ magnetospheres. He is a co-investigator on several ongoing and upcoming space missions, such as Mars Express, Juno, ICON, and JUICE.