The formation of a star through the gravitational collapse of a rotating molecular cloud core generates a circumstellar disk of gas and dust from which material is still accreted onto the star. This reservoir of matter contains the necessary ingredients for the formation of planets. Our Solar System and its Edgeworth-Kuiper belt of remaining debris, along with the hundreds of exoplanets found in the last decades surrounding main-sequence stars, are thought to be the end products of such processes. Several aspects of the evolution of disks are not well understood, such as the mechanisms by which gas and dust dissipate, the environment influence, or the repercussions of the dispersal process on the ability of a star to host a planetary system.
I am leading two projects to address these questions; more details will come around the end of 2012, when we expect to have some results. Stay tuned!