Canadian Gemini News

By Eric Steinbring (Canadian Gemini Office, NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre) with contributions from Stéphanie Côté
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

Growth in the CGO and at Gemini

After 15 years of strong, dedicated leadership of the CGO, Stéphanie Côté has passed the baton, and stepped down in the role of Group Leader. I will now take on this role, and thank Stéphanie for her years of faithful guidance and oversight. She will remain in the CGO, and together with Tim Davidge and Joel Roediger, we are now joined by a new member of the CGO team: Wes Fraser. Wes brings deep expertise in planetary science and the Kuiper Belt, and is involved in coordinating participation in the Vera Rubin Observatory and its Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). We all look forward to helping Canadian astronomers get the most from Canada’s premier optical/near-infrared facilities. Gemini Observatory itself is hiring; both tenure-track Scientific Staff and Science Fellow positions, along with a Postdoctoral Research Fellow position, especially intended for that indivdual to have the opportunity to engage in meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) activities. Please see the latest job advertisements for details and the closing dates.

DARP Progress

Semester 2023A was the third semester for which it was requested in Canada to write the proposals anonymously following the Dual-Anonymous Review Process (DARP). Over each of these three semesters the success rates of women PI proposals has been higher than men PI proposals, which had never happened in the previous 6 years that we had monitored this. The difference in success rates between women and men PI proposals is becoming smaller, which is what you might expect, with the goal that these rates oscillate around zero eventually.

It is most important for Canadians to become familiar with these DARP guidelines as many other astronomical facilities have implemented similar requirements for their observing proposals (NASA, ALMA, ESO amongst others), and might reject a DARP non-compliant proposal.

We were pleased to see that the great majority of Gemini proposals for 2023A successfully followed the DARP guidelines, however we still received 6 proposals that did not (= 19% of proposals). Those proposals had made an effort to follow DARP but had one minor slip. This minor slip always happened in the same context, which was when referring to some of their previous observations, or other related accepted programs. Here we remind you again on how to write DARP-approved texts in these situations:

  • Do not refer to previous observing programs at any observatories in an identifying fashion, including past Gemini programs. Replace “We have observe this galaxy in our previous 2023A program”, instead say “GN-2023A-Q33 observed this galaxy previously”, without taking ownership for the program, ie: never say “Our GN-2023A-Q33 program”.
  • Same goes if your targets are selected by one of your past or ongoing surveys on another facility or are Target-of-Opportunity targets to be triggered by data from another of your programs. Replace “Our targets were selected from our 1.45 micron WIRCAM imaging survey of this star-forming region from our program 21BC08”, say instead “Our targets were selected by the 1.45 micron WIRCAM imaging survey of this star-forming region from program 21BC08”.
  • And same goes if you need to refer to an accepted proposal at another facility for which you have not yet received data. Replace “These data will complement our NIRSPec data from our accepted JWST program 1686 PI=Smith”, say simply “These data will complement the NIRSpec data to be acquired by JWST program 1686”. Do not take ownership of the program.

In all these cases when it is written anonymously in this way it does not make it obvious if you are the PI or Co-I of this other previous/future program, or have an arrangement with a co-I to get the data, or maybe are simply ready to scavenge the archives when the data are made public.

Please make sure to consult the ‘DARP guidelines’ page for your future Gemini proposals, and feel free to consult with us (CGO at Gemini@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca) before the deadline in case of doubt or questions.

New Instrument, New Opportunities

The Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) is now on sky at Gemini South, and is completing its commissioning phase. This is a next step, following along a well-honed track of Canadian expertise in high-resolution optical spectroscopy, a prior one being Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (GRACES) at Gemini North. GRACES is also fibre-fed, running to that Canada France Hawaii Telescope instrument. Just this year a Gemini press release has highlighted a stream of old stars detected, via GRACES, at the edge of the Galaxy as a “shredded” star cluster: C-19. From that press release: “GRACES provided the critical clues that C-19 is a disrupted globular cluster and not the more common disrupted dwarf galaxy,” explained Kim Venn of the University of Victoria, the lead investigator for the GRACES observations. “We already knew that this was a very metal-poor stream, but identifying it as a globular cluster required the precision metallicities and detailed chemical abundances only available with high-resolution spectra.”

Got a big, new idea? Gemini is calling for letters of intent for Large and Long Proposals, to begin in semester 2023B. Letters are due by 13 February 2023. The deadline for full proposals will be 1 April 2023. See the official Call for Proposals for more information, including all the available instrument resources here. Don’t forget Fast Turnaround! The next deadline will be at noon Hawai’i Standard Time on 31 December 2022; in the South you can ask for GMOS-S (Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph) and F2 (Flamingos 2), available for most of this coming cycle, while IGRINS (Immersion Grating INfrared Spectroph) and Zorro (speckle imaging) are expected to be available for at least part of that time. The latest news on Gemini North, which had been in regular maintenance shutdown since 10 October, but then offline longer due to an incident during mirror maintenance, is that the Observatory expects to complete repairs in January. It should return to nighttime operations sometime in late February; the 2023A semester programs have been planned out to adjust for that.

Postdoctoral Position in Extreme Astrophysics – University of Manitoba

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in the eXtreme Astrophysics group of Prof. Samar Safi-Harb in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. As part of expanding the group’s research area into multi-messenger astrophysics, supported by the Canada Research Chairs program, the successful candidate will work on astrophysical studies of Compact Objects (compact objects mergers, neutron stars/magnetars, black holes) and/or associated environments (kilonova remnants, supernova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae), with focus on their multi-messenger science.

Over the next several years, advancements in sensitivity and detector development for both High-Energy and Gravitational Wave (GW) observatories will revolutionize our understanding of some of the most extreme events in the Universe. In particular, the upcoming Fourth Observing Run (O4) of the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA collaborations, expected to start in Spring 2023, will accelerate the growth of the multi-messenger astrophysics field, and lead to the discovery of new GW events to be followed up across the electromagnetic spectrum and with other messengers. The successful applicant will contribute to one or more of the following projects, depending on their interest and expertise: data analysis and interpretation of new GW transient events, targeted searches of continuous GW from known pulsars, directed searches of continuous GW waves from compact objects in supernova remnants and pulsar wind nebulae, follow-up and analysis of electromagnetic counterparts to GW events. Other projects that would align with multi-messenger studies of extreme astrophysical events can be proposed. The applicant will be given opportunities to (co-)supervise students, collaborate with researchers nationally and internationally, and contribute to outreach and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion activities at the University.

Applicants are required to have their PhD by the time they start their position, and preference will be given to candidates within three years of their PhD (official leaves not counted towards that timeframe). Applicants who are experienced with compact objects and gravitational wave (GW) astrophysics, GW data analysis, and/or follow up of electromagnetic counterparts of GW sources are strongly encouraged to apply and will be given preference. Knowledge of machine learning methods, Bayesian analysis, or surveys’ cross-matching will be an asset. This position will be full-time employment at the University of Manitoba with a negotiable starting date, ideally in May 2023, or soon after for a period of two years. A third year is possible subject to funding and performance.

The eXtreme astrophysics group of Prof. Safi-Harb collaborates with researchers nationally and internationally on multi-wavelength studies of high-energy astrophysical objects and phenomena; and is actively involved in the planning of future missions, particularly in the high-energy domain. Research in Astrophysics at the U. of Manitoba is enabled by observations conducted with state-of-the-art international telescopes and high-performance computing clusters. Additional facilities are available through Compute Canada. The Astronomy & Astrophysics group will soon commission the Peebles Astrophysics Lab: a new space for astronomy trainees that will facilitate interactions and interdisciplinary collaborations. We are supported by research links with other University of Manitoba departments, through the recently launched Data Science Nexus (https://sci.umanitoba.ca/data-science-nexus/) which is housed in the Faculty of Science.

The City of Winnipeg (www.tourismwinnipeg.com), located where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet, is recognized for its vibrant, multicultural community and diverse culture. The city, with a growing population of more than 766,000, is home to internationally renowned festivals, galleries and museums, the historic Exchange District and The Forks, and ever-expanding research, education, and business sectors. From the Hudson Bay waters, across the farmland fields, to the pulse of the cities and towns, The Province of Manitoba’s (www.travelmanitoba.com) people and places – its 100,000 lakes, 92 provincial parks, winding river valleys and storied prairie skies – inspire.
The cost of living in Winnipeg is relatively low, housing is affordable, and Manitobans are renown for their friendliness. Winnipeg is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the NHL’s Jets. Furthermore, the University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus houses the stadium that hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football games. The region provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation in all seasons and has been identified by Time magazine as one of 2021’s “World’s Greatest Places”.

The University of Manitoba is committed to the principles of equity, diversity & inclusion and to promoting opportunities in hiring, promotion and tenure (where applicable) for systemically marginalized groups who have been excluded from full participation at the University and the larger community including Indigenous Peoples, women, racialized persons, persons with disabilities and those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, intersex, asexual and other diverse sexual identities). All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority.

If you require accommodation supports during the recruitment process, please contact UM.Accommodation@umanitoba.ca or 204-474-7195. Please note this contact information is for accommodation reasons only.

To apply, please provide the following documents:
• A cover letter (1 page maximum) including the names and contact information of at least three professional references.
• A CV including a publications list.
• A research statement (3 pages maximum) addressing the candidate’s interest in the position and proposed research program.
• A statement (1 page maximum) addressing past and/or proposed contributions to supervision of students, public outreach, teaching, professional service, and/or Equity/Diversity/Inclusion activities.

All documents should be merged as a single PDF and sent by email to samar.safi-harb@umanitoba.ca, with the Subject: Postdoctoral Position in Extreme Astrophysics. Review of applications will begin Dec 16, 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.
Application materials, including letters of reference, will be handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Please note that curricula vitae may be provided to participating members of the search process.

(this job ad can be also viewed on the AAS Job register: https://jobregister.aas.org/ad/692fa3c6)

Assistant Professor, Physics and Astronomy University of Waterloo

The Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo invites applicants for a tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level. A broad range of areas will be considered including, Astrophysics, Quantum Matter, Photonics, Biophysics, and Soft Matter. Applications from outstanding candidates in other areas will be considered. The anticipated start date is September 1, 2023.

We are seeking applications from theorists and/or experimentalists. A Ph.D. degree and evidence of outstanding promise in research and teaching are required. Successful applicants are expected to develop and maintain a research program of exceptional quality and impact, to attract and supervise graduate students, to attract external funding at the level required to maintain a thriving research group, and to teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The salary range is $105,000 to $125,000, depending on experience. Negotiations beyond this salary range will be considered for exceptionally qualified candidates.

Candidates should submit electronically a curriculum vitae, an outline of research accomplishments, a brief research plan, a statement of teaching philosophy and goals, and make arrangements for four letters of reference to be sent to Professor Brian McNamara, Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1. Telephone: (519) 888-4567; extension 36831; e-mail: physics@uwaterloo.ca. Materials should be received by January 15, 2023.  Further information about the Department can be found on our web page: https://uwaterloo.ca/physics-astronomy/

The University values the diverse and intersectional identities of its students, faculty, and staff.  The University regards equity and diversity as an integral part of academic excellence and is committed to accessibility for all employees. The University of Waterloo seeks applicants who embrace our values of equity, anti-racism and inclusion. As such, we encourage applications from candidates who have been historically disadvantaged and marginalized, including applicants who identify as Indigenous peoples (e.g., First Nations, Metis, Inuit/Inuk), Black, racialized, people with disabilities, women and/or 2SLGBTQ+.

The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Indigenous Initiatives Office (https://uwaterloo.ca/human-rights-equity-inclusion/indigenousinitiatives).

The University of Waterloo is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. If you have any questions regarding the position, the application process, assessment process, eligibility, or a request for accommodation during the hiring process, please contact Dr. Brian McNamara, Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Telephone: (519) 888-4567; extension 36831; E-mail: physics@uwaterloo.ca.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Three reasons to apply: https://uwaterloo.ca/faculty-association/why-waterloo.