Improvements to TMT advice and feedback mechanisms

Dear CASCA members,

As promised in my recent President’s Message, here is some more information on what CASCA has been doing to improve its advisory structures relevant to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

Firstly, CASCA and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) together have formed the CASCA/ACURA TMT Advisory Committee, whose main functions are to provide advice to CASCA and ACURA on the current state of the TMT project and to act as a conduit for consulting with and informing the Canadian Astronomical community about the state of the TMT project.

The composition of the CASCA/ACURA TMT Advisory Committee is as follows:

Michael Balogh (Waterloo; Chair of the Committee)
Stefi Baum (Manitoba; ACURA appointment)
Ray Carlberg (Toronto; CASCA appointment)
Sarah Gallagher (Western; CASCA appointment)
David Lafrenière (Montreal; CASCA appointment)
Harvey Richer (UBC; ACURA appointment)
Christine Wilson (McMaster; ACURA appointment)

The committee has begun its deliberations and has been developing ambitious plans for ways to help you connect to the project. The committee will be organizing Town Hall-style events to get your feedback and I encourage you to participate fully in these. We can all look forward to hearing much more from the TMT Advisory Committee over the next few months.

Another important CASCA committee that has been working hard on your behalf is the Long-range Plan Implementation Committee (LRPIC). This is chaired by John Hutchings (NRC). To help make sure LRPIC captures the full range of the community’s views, the CASCA Board has decided to add some additional members to LRPIC, and the first of these additions is Sara Ellison (Victoria).

Canadian astrophysics goes from strength to strength, and one key to all of this is the excellence of the vibrant community from which we draw terrific people to serve on these committees. I know I sound like a bit of a broken record, but these people are all busy, yet they have all volunteered to do a ton of work on our behalf. They all deserve our thanks, so please remember to thank them next time you see them.

Best regards,

Roberto Abraham

Post-doctoral position in Interstellar Optical Spectroscopy

Prof. Jan Cami invites applications for a post-doctoral research position in interstellar optical spectroscopy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) at the University of Western Ontario. The successful applicant will work on the Diffuse Interstellar Band (DIB) problem and lead much of the data analysis efforts to exploit the EDIBLES (ESO DIB Large Exploration Survey) data set, an unprecedented collection of high signal-to-noise and high spectral resolution observations obtained with VLT/UVES. He or she will also have the possibility to participate in other research programs as well as carrying out independent research.

Candidates must have a PhD in astrophysics or related fields, and preferably a background in astronomical spectroscopy and/or data analysis. Expertise in studies of the interstellar medium or in data analysis using advanced statistical methods and/or machine learning techniques would be advantageous.

The initial appointment is for 1 year with the expectation of one or two additional years dependent upon performance and continued funding. The start date is flexible, but preferably no later than the summer of 2017.

Support for research and observing travel as well as publications will be provided.

Applicants should send a cover letter, CV with bibliography, a brief statement of research interests, and arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent directly to Prof. Cami. The position will remain open until filled. For full consideration, complete applications should be received by March 1, 2017. The University of Western Ontario is committed to employment equity.

Applications should be sent via e-mail to or via mail to:
Jan Cami
Department of Physics and Astronomy, PAB 203
The University of Western Ontario
1151 Richmond Street
London, ON N6A 3K7

Post-doctoral position in observational IR astronomy

Applications are invited for a post-doctoral position in observational infrared astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Western Ontario. The successful candidate will pursue projects with Prof. Els Peeters. These projects will be related to studies of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dust in various environments, with an emphasis on (galactic and extragalactic) star-forming regions and photodissociation regions (PDRs), and will utilize Spitzer, SOFIA, ground-based and future JWST observations. The successful applicant will be expected to participate in the preparation for the upcoming JWST mission and in the analysis of JWST Early Release Science data.

Candidates must have a PhD in astrophysics or related fields. Preference will be given to candidates with a strong background in IR astronomy and astronomical data reduction. Prior research experience with PAHs and dust is desirable but not required. The appointment is for 2 years with an additional year dependent upon performance and continued funding. The start date is flexible but is expected to be summer 2017.

Applicants should send (preferably electronically) a cover letter, CV, a statement of research interests, and arrange for three letters of recommendation to be send directly to Dr. Peeters by March 1, 2017. The University of Western Ontario is committed to employment equity.

Name: Els Peeters
Email address:
Affiliation: University of Western Ontario

Three New MSc/PhD Positions in Exoplanet Science

We are happy to announce three new MSc/PhD positions in exoplanet science at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) at Université de Montréal. The three students will work in Professor Björn Benneke’s new group on the characterization and discovery of exoplanets and their atmospheres.

Professor Benneke is arriving at UdeM with state-of-art atmospheric modeling tools and a wide range of exciting new data sets from the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and the 10-meter Keck telescopes. Among other things Professor Benneke is the principle investigator of the largest Hubble Space Telescope program to characterize super-Earths as well as a large Keck Telescope program to study giant exoplanets.

Topics that the MSc/PhD student will be able to work on include:
- Exploring the diversity of planetary atmospheres on super-Earths using Hubble Space Telescope transit spectroscopy.
- Probing the formation of giants planets using high-resolution near-infrared spectroscopy from Keck telescopes.
- Exploring and understanding the exotic nature of clouds on exoplanets.
- Discovery and initial characterization of prime targets for future JWST characterization using K2, TESS, and ground-based follow-up.

Applicants must have an undergraduate or a Master degree in physics. Interested applicants can contact Professor Benneke directly at before 2017 February 15th. For more information on Professor Benneke’s work, please also see his webpage: or contact him.

The Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) consists of a growing team of about 40 people (professors, postdocs, research assistants and students) from UdeM and McGill all working on various research programs focused on the study of exoplanets and related fields of stellar astrophysics. Members of iREx are actively involved in large international projects related to the detection and characterization of exoplanets, notably the future James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Gemini Planet Imager and the infrared spectrographs SPIRou and NIRPS. More information on iREx research projects here: Working languages at iREx are French and English. Université de Montréal is a French institution. Support will be offered to students to learn French if necessary.

For more information on iREx, contact Marie-Eve Naud, iREx scientific coordinator:
For more information on UdeM application process contact Sophie Tremblay, Technicienne en gestion des dossiers étudiants des cycles supérieurs: and/or see the webpages

104-16-0965_Research Associate, Adaptive Optics

Research Associate, Adaptive Optics NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL of CANADA (NRC)
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, BC V9E 2E7
Fax : (613) 990-1286
Telephone: (613) 949-7685
E-mail enquiries:
Related URLs:
Further information on NRC Herzberg can be found at
Information on NRC Herzberg staff and their research interests is available at
Proposed start date:  Summer 2017

A Research Associate is required to work on adaptive optics (AO) research, as part of the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Portfolio (HAA) Adaptive Optics (AO) Team. The HAA-AO Team is currently involved in a number of international projects, which include the Gemini Planet Image (GPI) and the Narrow Field Infra-Red AO System (NFIRAOS), the first light Multi-Conjugate AO (MCAO) system for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The GPI instrument is in operation but will soon require upgrades. The NFIRAOS project is in its final design phase. In addition, the AO Team is also engaged in an ambitious R&D program focussed on advanced wave-front sensing and wide-field AO.
To support these activities, the HAA-AO Team has developed an extensive laboratory infrastructure (AO Lab), which currently includes two optical benches. The first is an MCAO bench called Herzberg NFIRAOS Optical Simulator (HENOS). HENOS is a scaled down model of NFIRAOS and is used develop and validate the control algorithms, the calibration procedures, and the post-processing software that will be implemented in NFIRAOS. The HENOS bench includes simulated natural and laser guide stars, simulated atmospheric turbulence, two deformable mirrors, one Shack-Hartmann wave-front sensor (WFS), one pyramid WFS and a science camera. The second bench is dedicated to exploring novel wave-front sensing techniques, including pyramid WFSs and non-linear techniques such as phase diversity. Plans are also in the works to deploy a third bench dedicated to high-contrast imaging. The HAA-AO Team engages with graduate students (typically three to four at any given time) from the University of V
ictoria and elsewhere in Canada, who use the AO Lab to carry out their research projects.
The Research Associate will play a key role in using the AO Lab to carry out original AO research, developing its capabilities and coordinating the work of the graduate students. He/she will also be expected to support on-going projects such as NFIRAOS by providing critical AO-related analysis to help progress designs.
Applicants must have acquired their Ph.D. within the last five years or expect to obtain their degree before taking up the position. Applications should be made by 10 February 2017 via the process described at the URL provided.

NRC is an equal opportunity employer.
Vous pouvez obtenir ces renseignements en français au site web indiqué ci-haut.

Tenure-track position in Astrophysics and Particle Astrophysics at Queen’s University

The Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s University invites applications for a Tenure-track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor with specialization in astrophysics and particle astrophysics. The expected starting date for the position is July 1, 2017. The successful candidate will be an outstanding scientist who will establish an excellent research program and contribute to undergraduate and graduate teaching and supervision. In exceptional cases, candidates above the level of Assistant Professor may be considered.

Queen’s University is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities. The Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy at Queen’s University has 28 Faculty members working in the areas of astronomy and astrophysics, condensed matter physics and optics, engineering and applied physics, and particle astrophysics. We are located in historic Kingston on the shores of Lake Ontario. Kingston’s residents enjoy an outstanding quality of life with a wide range of cultural, recreational, and creative opportunities.

Queen’s is playing a lead role in the establishment of the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC), an ambitious new program funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). A major goal of CPARC includes building a powerful research team contributing to the many diverse requirements of a world-leading particle astrophysics research program. This includes the development of particle astrophysics experiments and theory, observational and theoretical astrophysics, detector design, and the development of tools and techniques for calibration, material screening and low level radio-purification. To achieve this, CPARC aims to benefit from and strengthen cross-disciplinary expertise at Queen’s between Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy (particle astrophysics and detector development), Chemistry (radio-analytical chemistry), Geological Sciences (Facility for Isotopic Research) and Mechanical and Materials Engineering (Reactor Materials Testing
Laboratory). The University anticipates hiring seven faculty members associated with CPARC, in addition to a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) particle astrophysics theorist, to complement its current team of research scientists, engineers, technicians, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. An additional seven faculty hires are being strategically targeted at collaborating institutions across Canada to significantly enhance this world-renowned particle astrophysics program. For further information please see

Please go to

to view the full job ad and for instructions on how to apply.

Kaspi and Martin appointed to Order of Canada

It is with great pleasure that the Canadian Astronomical Society / Société Canadienne d’Astronomie recognizes and applauds the appointment of Dr Victoria M. Kaspi of McGill University as a Companion of the Order of Canada, and Dr Peter G. Martin of the University of Toronto as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Victoria M. Kaspi is one of the world’s leading experts on neutron stars, the ancient remnants of the most massive stars in the Milky Way. The most massive stars end their lives as black holes. Less massive stars, however, leave behind celestial objects no bigger than the city of Montreal, yet so dense that just one teaspoon would weigh 100 million metric tonnes.

Dr Kaspi received her PhD from Princeton University in 1993. As well as receiving the 2016 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal from NSERC, she has received numerous prizes and fellowships, including the Hubble Fellowship, the Annie Jump Cannon Prize of the American Astronomical Society, and has been elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Society of London, and the US National Academy of Sciences.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the interstellar medium, Dr Martin moved to the University of Toronto shortly after receiving his PhD in 1972, where he quickly began a series of efforts — continuing to the present day — that bolstered Canada’s reputation as a world leader in astronomical research. In 1984, he co-founded the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Research (CITA), which quickly grew into one of the world’s leading centres for theoretical astrophysics. During the past decade, he worked tirelessly to establish the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, now poised to become a major centre for the development of astronomical instrumentation.

Dr Martin’s contributions to the national community are equally extensive. He has served on countless national and international committees, including the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), of which he was one of the founding advisors.

CASCA congratulates Dr Kaspi and Dr Martin for this exceptional recognition of their outstanding contributions to fundamental research as well as the Canadian astronomy and astrophysics community.

e-News: November/December 2016



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