CASCA-Westar Speakers

The following Canadian Astronomers are volunteers with the CASCA-Westar Lectureship series. Hailing from across the country, and varied in their interests, these astronomers bring their passion for what they do to the public through events such as public lectures, star parties and classroom workshops. Many have also been amateur astronomers.

If you are interested in coordinating a CASCA-Westar Lectureship event in your community, please fill out the application form. If you have a question, you can contact us at:

Most of our speakers are happy to tailor their talks to a specific topic, so if you have something specific in mind, please let us know! Several of our speakers are able to offer their talks in other languages where indicated. For French speakers, please see the French version of this page.

Niayesh Afshordi, University of Waterloo/Perimeter Institute
Sample Titles: 100 years of Alice’s adventures in (Relativistic) Wonderland;
What banged and why? The greatest story of all time; Is the universe a hologram?; Physics beyond the horizon; Unravelling the Darkness: A Cosmic Odyssey
Other topics: Cosmology, Black Holes, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Big Bang, Quantum Gravity
Other languages: Farsi
John Blakeslee, Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics
Sample Titles: A Guided Tour of the Universe
A Quarter Century of the Hubble Space Telescope
Astronomy and the Development of the Modern Calendar
Dante’s Universe: Astronomy in the Divine Comedy
Other topics: History of astronomy, astronomical themes in literature, massive galaxies, supermassive black holes
Terry Bridges, Okanagan College
Sample Titles: Globular Star Clusters, Dark Matter, and Elliptical Galaxies
Learning About the Universe Through Astronomical Spectroscopy
Other topics: Solar system, life in the universe, exoplanets, dark energy and the accelerating universe, and telescopes and instrumentation.
Stephane Courteau, Queen’s University
Sample Titles: What’s the Matter with our Universe?
Other topics: Dark matter, dark energy, and the latest ideas about the cosmos.
Other languages: French
Louise Edwards, California Polytechnic State University
Sample Titles: Today’s largest galaxies and leftover light in clusters
Other topics: Galaxies and galaxy evolution, Stars: their lives and deaths, Planets and exoplanets, Women and minorities in Science.
Other languages: French
Sarah Gallagher, Western University
Sample Titles: Gasbags and Blowhards: Supermassive Black Holes in the Universe
Other topics: Galaxy collisions, adventures at the telescope
Dave Hanes, Queen’s University
Sample Titles: O Thou Transcendent: the Representation of Astronomy in Music, Art and Literature, Globular Star Clusters: Jewels in the Sky
Other topics: Recent astronomical discoveries or events (such as missions to Mars), wide range of topics of interest to the community.
Mark Halpern, University of British Columbia
Sample Titles:
Other topics: Cosmology, history of star formation, age, contents and dynamics of the Universe, dark matter and dark energy
The history of the stars
Jeremy Heyl, University of British Columbia
Sample Titles: The High-Energy Universe: More than meets the eye!
What can we learn by counting stars?
Other topics: High-energy astrophysics, neutron stars, galaxy mergers, galaxy evolution, black holes, stellar evolution
Other languages: Spanish
Renee Hlozek, Dunlap Institute, University of Toronto
Sample Titles: Cosmology: The what, when, how of the universe
Measuring the nascent light from the birth of the universe
Other topics: The big bang, dark energy, dark matter, inflation, underrepresented groups in astronomy, South African astronomy
Other languages: French, some ASL
Doug Johnstone, National Research Council of Canada
Sample Titles:A Star is Born: Shining Light on the Nebulous Past of the Sun
Up All Night: Life at the Summit of Maunakea
Other topics: star and planet formation, observations and instruments needed to learn about star formation (especially the JCMT, ALMA, Herschel, and JWST)
Christian Marois, CNRC/Herzberg
Sample Titles: Looking for life in the Universe, Looking for habitable planets in the Sun’s neighbourhood, Looking for terrestrial planets in Alpha Centauri system
Other topics: Exoplanets, looking for life in the Universe, how we detect exoplanets
Other languages: French
Jaymie Matthews, University of British Columbia
Sample Titles: Exploring planets far, far away… without hyperdrive
Listening to the music of the stars
Goldilocks and the 3000+ Worlds: Looking for planets that are ‘just right’
What the textbooks don’t tell you: The human stories behind discoveries
Other topics: Exoplanets, stellar seismology, science and science fiction
Stanimir Metchev, The University of Western Ontario
Sample Titles: Homing in on Another Earth
Weather on Other Worlds: Massive Storms and Rains of Molten Iron
Finding the Faintest Asteroids and Comets
Other topics: Exoplanets and developments in solar system astronomy, including planetary exploration
Marie-Eve Naud, Université de Montréal, Institut de recherche sur les exoplanètes (iREx)
Sample Titles: Alone in the Universe? Humanity’s quest for other inhabited worlds
Other topics: Exoplanets, astrobiology
Other languages: French
Laura Parker, McMaster University
Sample Titles: The Dark Universe; Complexity in the Universe; Dark Matter and Gravitational Lensing; Galaxy Evolution
Other topics: Life in the universe, extra-solar planets, structure formation, observational astronomy
Levon Pogosian, Simon Fraser University
Sample Titles: Einstein, Cosmology, and the Expanding Universe
Our Universe: Facts and Speculations
Other topics: Historical introduction to the current understanding of the universe; cosmic acceleration, dark energy, modified gravity, cosmic strings
Other Languages: Armenian, Russian
Harvey Richer, University of British Columbia
Sample Titles: The Hubble Space Telescope, Cosmic Influences of Life on Earth, Light from the Universe, A Watcher of the Skies.
Other topics:
Jason Rowe, Bishop’s University, Institute for research on exoplanets (iREx)
Sample Titles:
Other topics: Exoplanets, Kepler Mission, James Webb Space Telescope, Search for Life
Jon Willis, University of Victoria
Sample Titles: Everything you ever wanted to know about the Big Bang but were afraid to ask; The search for life in the universe; Exploring the oceans of the solar system.
Other topics: Cosmology, Life in the Universe
Life in the Universe
Christine Wilson, McMaster University
Sample Titles: New eyes on the cold universe: the Atacama Large Millimeter Array
Other topics: Star and galaxy formation

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