Tier 1 CRC at Saint Mary’s University

Tier I Canada Research Chair – Astronomy

The Saint Mary’s University Department of Astronomy and Physics invites applications from researchers in any area of astronomy and astrophysics to be the University’s nominee for our Tier I Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Astronomy. The successful candidate will be nominated by the University to the CRC Secretariat and, if approved, will be appointed as a regular faculty member to a tenure-track position at the Associate or Full Professor level. The CRC Program was established by the Government of Canada to enable Canadian Universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence in the global, knowledge-based economy. Tier I CRCs are awarded to individuals who are outstanding researchers in their fields, acknowledged as world leaders (see www.chairs.gc.ca for details). The University has identified astronomy, computational sciences, and subatomic physics as one of its five major research themes. More details may be found at http://www.smu.ca/webfiles/SRP-Senateappro
ved.pdf. Saint Mary’s University recognizes the long and continuing record of excellence from the Department in this area of research and accordingly has allocated astronomy researchers two CRCs (this position and a Tier II Chair, already occupied).

The Department is the regional centre for astronomy in Atlantic Canada, and consists of ten faculty members, all with active research efforts in observational astronomy, theoretical and computational astrophysics, and experimental subatomic physics. The Department offers both M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in astronomy, as well as undergraduate physics and astrophysics programs. The University also hosts the Institute for Computational Astrophysics (ICA). The ICA is an institute promoting computational astrophysics in the broadest possible terms; tackling complex astrophysical phenomena through numerical simulation, and advancing discoveries utilizing “big data” from large multinational observational facilities. The Tier I CRC candidate may be considered for directorship of the ICA. Observers in the Department are active participants in Astro-H, JWST, and users of many international observatories. ICA members are active in the local HPC consortium, ACEnet, as well as Compute Can
ada, while the subatomic physicists are frequent users of TRIUMF, Jefferson Lab, and other world facilities. For a more complete account of departmental activities, see www.ap.smu.ca.

Saint Mary’s is located in the historic port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a vibrant, urban community of over 350,000 people. Halifax is a major educational and economic centre for Atlantic Canada and is home to five universities. It is conveniently located close to recreational areas and to other major urban centres in Canada and the Northeastern United States. A public university with over 7,000 students, Saint Mary’s University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university is committed to serving the local, regional, national, and international communities, and integrating such activity as part of the learning environment for undergraduate and graduate students. The University has gone through significant renewal in the past decade, with over 250 full-time faculty involved in innovative teaching, research and service. Interdisciplinary studies are a prominent feature and strength of the University. For information about the University a
nd the Faculty of Science, please see our website at http://science.smu.ca/.

Saint Mary’s University hires on the basis of merit and is committed to the principles of employment equity. Saint Mary’s University encourages applications from qualified women, visible minorities, Aboriginal people, and people with disabilities. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada.

The search committee will begin considering applications on August 17th, 2015. Interviews of short-listed candidates will commence in September. Please submit your C.V. along with a statement of research interests, a research proposal (maximum of five pages) for the purpose of the CRC nomination, a teaching dossier, and the names and addresses of four referees to:

Chair, Search Committee – Tier I CRC
Department of Astronomy and Physics
Saint Mary’s University
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3C3
Fax: (902) 496-8218
Web: www.ap.smu.ca
Email: CRCsearch@ap.smu.ca

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CFHT data helps New Horizons navigate toward Pluto

Launched January 19 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft is now getting very close to Pluto with a predicted closest approach on Tuesday July 14 at 11:49:57 UTC, 01:00 HST. This will be the first human encounter with the Plutonian world. New Horizons will get there relying on CFHT data.

New Horizons is roughly 2.5 meters (8 feet) across and weighed approximately 480 kilograms (1,050 pounds) – about half a ton – when first fueled. It travels a the tremendous Earth-relative speed of about 16.26 kilometers per seconds (58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph). At this speed however, New Horizons will only be able to make a flyby close to Pluto and will not be able to enter orbit. Entering orbit would mean that operators would have to reduce the craft speed by over 90%, which would require more than 1,000 times the fuel that New Horizons can carry.

Nevertheless, a series of maneuvers are needed for a collisionless approach to Pluto so an accurate mapping of the objects close to or in the Plutonian system is crucial. In order to achieve this, the New Horizons team performed several images scans for smaller objects, for both intrinsic scientific interest, and as potential collision hazards. However, in order to enable the hazard search, New Horizons required a high-precision flux/position reference system.

CFHT discretionary time awarded to JJ Kavelaars at the CADC in 2014 turned out to be the best dataset to do just that. During the 2014A semester, Kavelaars and collaborators used MegaCam to refine Pluto’s astrometric system, improving our knowledge of Pluto’s orbit and aiding the New Horizons pre-encounter hazard search team. The catalog resulting from these observations allows more precise calibration than any other wide field imager currently in operation due to the decade long use of MegaPrime on CFHT and the precise calibration system developed for this camera by Stephen Gwyn at the CADC. CFHT/MegaPrime astrometric reference catalogue is now being fed directly into the navigation process for guiding New Horizons into it’s final encounter with the Pluto system.

Additional information:

CFHT press release

New Horizons website

Contact Information:

Stephen Gwyn
Canadian Astronomical Data Center
Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics
Stephen.Gwyn@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

JJ Kavelaars
Canadian Astronomical Data Center
Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics
JJ.Kavelaars@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2), Bishop’s University

Applications will be reviewed starting September 15, 2015.

Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec (www.ubishops.ca) has an opening for a Tier2 Canada Research Chair position. The STAR Research cluster (www.ubishops.ca/star) welcomes applications in one or more of the following areas: cosmology, astroparticle physics, interacting binaries, compact objects, exoplanets, classical and quantum gravity, and their interface with mathematical physics.

The CRC program was created by the Government of Canada to cultivate world-class research and development.  Applicants for these positions should possess a PhD (or equivalent), have a superior research profile in one of the proposed areas, demonstrate the ability to obtain external funding, and demonstrate potential to emerge as an internationally recognized scholar. Teaching duties consist of two (3 credit hours each) semester-length courses per academic year. A strong teaching record is also beneficial. Bilingualism/multilingualism is an asset.

Tier 2 Chairs are intended for exceptional emerging scholars (i.e., candidates must have been active researchers in their field for fewer than 10 years at the time of nomination). Applicants who are more than 10 years from their highest degree (and where career breaks exist, including maternity leave, extended sick leave, clinical training, etc.) may have their eligibility for a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair assessed through the program’s Tier 2 justification process. Please contact Bishop’s Research Office for eligibility details and the CRC for website for full program information, including further details on eligibility criteria (http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/program-programme/nomination-mise_en_candidature-eng.aspx#s3).

The CRC will be awarded for a five year period, renewable once upon approval from the CRC program in Ottawa.

Bishop’s University welcomes diversity in the workplace and encourages applications from all qualified men and women, including aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Canadians and permanent residents should indicate their citizenship status in their applications. Bishop’s University is an equal opportunity employer.

Application packages, which should include a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, statement of research achievements and future objectives, evidence of teaching effectiveness and the names and contact information of at least three referees, must be sent by email to Sylvie Cote, Director of Research Services at scote@ubishops.ca.

Applications will be reviewed starting September 15, 2015 and will continue to be accepted until a nominee is chosen. Ideally, the nominee will submit a full application package to the CRC program in April 2016. Start date to be negotiated.

For further information, please contact Miles Turnbull, Vice-Principal Academic, responsible for research or consult the CRC website at www.chairs.gc.ca.