2018 Plaskett Medal

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.

2018 Qilak prize

Dr. Thacker received his PhD in Physics from the University of Alberta in 1999. He is now Professor and Director of the Science Outreach Centre at Saint Mary’s University, following a Canada Research Chair position (2007-17). Dr. Thacker is a passionate communicator of science and a tireless advocate for astronomy research in Canada.

In addition to maintaining an internationally recognized research portfolio, he dedicates his time to science outreach through mass media, and as it relates to the public understanding of science. Since 2009 he has participated in a vast number of outreach activities including promoting science weekly to 30,000+ radio listeners in Halifax and across Canada, participation in media (including TV, radio) interviews & science programmes, authoring popular articles for magazines and websites, co-spearheading the renovation of the Burke-Gaffney Observatory, giving public lectures (including prize lectures) and school/student presentations, co-authoring an integrated science textbook for beginning science students and promoting inclusion and accessibility in STEM fields. He has become a well-known subject area expert in the Halifax media earning popular nicknames such as “Dr Rob of the Science Files” and the “Science Ship Pilot”.

CASCA is delighted to recognize Dr. Thacker’s tireless efforts for communicating astronomy in Atlantic Canada and beyond.

2019 Plaskett Medal: Alexandra Tetarenko

CASCA is pleased to award the 2019 J. S. Plaskett medal to Dr. Alexandra Tetarenko from the University of Alberta. Dr. Tetarenko’s doctoral thesis is on the physics of relativistic jets in X-ray binaries, as revealed by radio, millimeter (mm), and sub-millimeter (sub-mm) observations. Dr. Tetarenko published six papers as a first author as part of her thesis, and was the second author on a recently accepted Nature paper. Dr. Tetarenko demonstrates exceptional skills both as an observer and in the physical interpretation of complex observational data, and has become a leading expert in mm/submm observations of black hole X-ray binaries. Currently a 2018 East Asian Observatory Fellow, Dr. Tetarenko continues to excel, recently publishing an investigation into Radio Frequency Timing Analysis of the Compact Jet in the Black Hole X-ray Binary Cygnus X-1.

CASCA is delighted to award Dr. Tetarenko the Plaskett Medal for her doctoral thesis.