Dr. Otarola is a Civil Engineer with specialty in Geography, with undergraduate studies carried out at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile from 1982 to 1989. He also received a diploma on Computer Sciences (relational databases, operative systems and microprocessors) from Universidad Católica del Norte (Chile).
Was awarded a Master of Science in the field of Atmospheric Sciences with a research on the modeling of the Relative Permittivity of Liquid Water at frequencies from microwaves up to 1.5 Terahertz, in May 2006. In December 2008 was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Atmospheric Sciences with minor in Planetary Sciences with a research on The Effects of Turbulence in an Absorbing Atmosphere on the Propagation of Microwave Signals Used in an Active Sounding System. All graduate education performed at the University of Arizona (USA) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. E. Robert Kursinski.
In his professional career has been staff member of the European Southern Observatory, Caltech/Thirty-Meter Telescope International Observatory, and since August 2020 is back to the European Southern Observatory in the position of Atmosphere Scientist.
Has participated in worldwide site testing studies intended for the identification of the best location for the deployment of astronomical projects such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array and the Thirty-Meter Telescope Project. Conducts active research in atmospheric properties of best sites for the location of astronomical observatories, as well as, physical modelling and instrumental monitoring of atmospheric parameters relevant for astronomy, such as: atmospheric turbulence and precipitable water vapour content and their spatial and temporal variability.
More recently, Dr. Otarola has also focused his service to the community in initiatives related to the preservation of the natural brightness of the nigh sky. Is a member of the Chilean Astronomy Society’s Light Pollution Working Group, and the Chilean Low-Earth Orbits Satellite Group where he contributes with his studies of the increasing number of Low-Earth Orbit satellite trails affecting astronomical science images.
Dr. Otarola is a member of various professional societies, such as: The International Astronomical Union, where is a member of the Organizing Committee for the Commission on Protection of Existing and Potential Observatory Sites; The American Astronomical Society, The Sociedad Chilena de Astronomía (SOCHIAS), The American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union.