Looking Back at CASCA-2017

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By/par Erik Rosolowsky, on behalf of the LOC
(Cassiopeia – Summer/été 2017)

The astrophysics group at the University of Alberta was pleased to host the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society. The meeting was held in Edmonton, Alberta from May 29 to June 1, 2017, and over 200 members of the Canadian astronomical community attended. The full details of the meeting, including the conference program remain available at casca2017.ca. In addition to several prize lectures by the 2017 CASCA awardees, invited speakers covered topics ranging from engaging public outreach, to planetary energy budgets, to next generation instruments. Over 70 junior researchers presented their research in poster and oral contributions, showcasing the next great results to come out of the community. Fiona Harrison, Principal Investigator of the NuSTAR mission, delivered the Helen Sawyer Hogg lecture to meeting attendees and the public on “From Spinning Black Holes to Exploding Stars: A New View of the High Energy Universe.”

Several additional activities happened associated with the CASCA meeting including a full-day workshop for graduate students, this year focusing on writing scientific papers. In addition to faculty members, the graduate students heard from Leslie Sage, editor at Nature (and CASCA press officer), who spoke about the publication process, and Christina Hwang of the University of Alberta libraries, who spoke about data access and management. The Education and Public Outreach Committee organized an excellent workshop for local educators, expanding and enriching their ongoing effort to connect our community with the science educators. There were two special sessions to present information about Canadian participation in Very Large Optical Telescopes, in particular the Thirty Metre Telescope. These sessions featured broad-ranging discussion about the circumstances surrounding our next great telescope project. The CASCA Board, the Joint Committee on Space Astronomy, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, all held their annual face-to-face meetings.

In addition to oral and poster prizes presented to the students in attendance, the LOC initiated a hopefully-continuing tradition of awarding a poster prize to the best post-PhD contributor. At this meeting, the SOC/LOC prioritized junior scientists for oral contributions and we instituted the prize to encourage senior scientists to present their research through a poster presentation. This year’s inaugural winner was Jason Rowe (Montréal/Bishop’s). Awards for students were presented to:

  • Best student oral presentation (as judged by the Board): (tie) Gwendolyn Eadie (McMaster) & Anna Ordog (Calgary)
  • Best student poster presentation (as judged by the Board): Megan Tannock (Western)
  • Best student oral presentation (as judged by the students): Gwendolyn Eadie (McMaster)
  • Best student poster presentation (as judged by the students): Farbod Jahandar (Victoria)

We would like to thank attendees for coming to the meeting. Your attendance is ultimately what makes these annual meetings a success. In particular, we would like to thank those members of the community who support their students to travel to and attend CASCA meetings. By convening and deliberating on scientific and policy questions, we strengthen our community and advance our broader scientific goals.

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