J.S. Plaskett Medal

The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Canadian Astronomical Society have established an award entitled The Plaskett Medal in recognition of the pivotal role played by John Stanley Plaskett in the establishment of astrophysical research in Canada. The award, consisting of a gold medal, is to be made annually to the Ph.D. graduate from a Canadian university who is judged to have submitted the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics in the preceding two calendar years. The recipient is invited to address one or the other of the sponsoring Societies (at his or her choice) at their Annual Meeting, and to submit an invited article for the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (JRASC). The recipient will receive a $750 honorarium and all expenses to attend the meeting will be covered by that Society.

At most one candidate may be nominated by the head of his/her department from among the graduates of that university. The candidate need not have carried out his/her work in an astronomy or physics department, however, to be considered for the award, the candidate must be a CASCA member in good standing or must have been a CASCA member in good standing for at least two years during his/her doctoral studies.

For consideration for the 2019 award, the department head should send, in pdf format, the following materials to the chair of the awards committee:

  1. a letter of recommendation in support of the candidate/thesis (maximum three pages)
  2. a copy of the thesis
  3. a copy of the report from the outside examiner of the thesis
  4. (optional) a letter from the outside examiner in the case that the report is insufficiently detailed

Copies of all materials should also be sent to the CASCA business office: casca at casca.ca. The deadline for submission is Dec 1 2018. Note that if the thesis does not clearly indicate how much of its content represents the original work and ideas of the author, the department head should address this point in the letter. No other material should be submitted.

Note that the phrase “in the two preceding calendar years” in the eligibility rules makes it possible to re-nominate a candidate for whom an unsuccessful nomination was made in the preceding year. Because none of the documentation of previous nominations is retained for the use of the current selection committee, all re-nominations should be submitted with full documentation.

2018 Plaskett Medal

Eadie-Gwen

CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Gwendolyn Eadie as the 2018 recipient of the J. S. Plaskett Medal.

Dr. Eadie completed her doctoral studies at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. William Harris. In her thesis entitled “Lights in Dark Places: Inferring the Milky Way Mass Profile using Galactic Satellites and Hierarchical Bayes”, she developed a high-level statistical method to derive the mass and mass distribution within astrophysical systems. Mass is a fundamental variable driving the evolution of galaxies like our Milky Way, but it is notoriously difficult to measure due to the fact that it is dominated by the dark matter extending well beyond the visible starlight. This challenge is compounded by incomplete data on the positions and velocities of “tracer particles” such as stars, star clusters and dwarf satellites scattered through the galaxy’s halo. Dr. Eadie developed a powerful Bayesian formulation of the problem combined with Markov Chain Monte Carlo calculations of the relevant parameters in the problem and their probability distributions. Her formulation also included a hierarchical treatment of measurement uncertainties for each tracer. She used it to place a new constraint on the mass profile and total mass of the Milky Way, and it will be a very powerful tool in the exploitation of future very large datasets from the Gaia mission and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). .

CASCA congratulates Dr. Eadie on the receipt of the 2018 Plaskett medal for her groundbreaking work to shed light on the dark side of our Milky Way galaxy and other corners of the Universe.

Recipients to date have been:
2017 RajabiFereshteh Rajabi University of Western Ontario “Dicke’s Superradiance in Astrophysics” View Citation
2016 GagneJonathan Gagné Université de Montréal “The search for brown dwarfs and low-mass stars in young associations of the solar neighborhood” View Citation
2015 ponAnne Archibald McGill University “The End of Accretion: The X-ray Binary/Millisecond Pulsar Transition Object PSR J1023+0038” View Citation
2014 ponAndrew Pon University of Victoria “Shocks, Superbubbles, and Filaments: Investigations into Large Scale Gas Motions in Giant Molecular Clouds” View Citation
2013 Yasuhiro Hasegawa McMaster University “Planet Traps in Protoplanetary Disk and the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems.” View Citation
2012 Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay Université de Montréal “Improved View of Hydrogen-Rich Atmosphere White Dwarfs”
2011 Kaitlin Kratter University of Toronto “The Role of Disks in the Formation of Stellar Systems”
2010 Helen Kirk University of Victoria “Star Formation in the Perseus Molecular Cloud”
2009 Catherine Lovekin St. Mary’s University “The Effects of Rotation and Overshoot on Stellar Pulsation Frequencies”
2008 Adam Muzzin University of Toronto ” Clusters of Galaxies in the Near to Mid-Infrared”
2007 Frédéric Grandmont Université Laval “Développement d’un spectromètre imageur à transformée de Fourier pour l’astronomie”
2006 Lauren MacArthur University of British Columbia “Stellar Populations in Spiral Galaxies”
2005 Christian Marois Université de Montréal “Direct Exoplanet Imaging around Sun-like Stars: Beating the Speckle Noise with Innovative Imaging Techniques”
2004 Jo-Anne Brown University of Calgary “The Magnetic Field of the Outer Galaxy”
2003 Tracy Webb University of Toronto
2002 Edward Thommes Queen’s University
2001 Peter Brown University of Western Ontario
2000 Alexei Razoumov University of British Columbia
1999 Stéphane Charpinet Université de Montréal
1998 Dean E. McLaughlin McMaster University “Star Formation in Molecular Clouds and Globular Clusters”
1997 Alain Beauchamp Université de Montréal
1996 Gordon Squires University of Toronto
1995 Michael Richer York University
1994 Grant M. Hill University of Western Ontario
1993 Pierre Brassard Université de Montréal
1992 Eric Poisson University of Alberta
1991 Paul Charbonneau Université de Montréal
1990 Pierre Bergeron Université de Montréal
1989 Peter Leonard University of Toronto
1988 Richard O. Gray University of Toronto

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