SPEAKERS

University of Toronto astronomers are available to visit your school or community group to talk about astronomy and answer questions. Whether you’d like a short discussion about meteors with your grade one class or an in-depth talk on the nature of dark energy for your amateur astronomy group, we’ve got you covered. Best of all, this service is free within the Toronto area (but subject to the availability of speakers).

You can preview the list of speakers below, then click below to request a speaker:

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Abraham

Dr. Roberto Abraham

Talk Titles:

Finding your place in Space and Time

Canada and the James Webb Space Telescope

The Origin of Galaxies

Talk Languages:

English

Roberto Abraham is a Professor of Astronomy and Associate Chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. His research is in galaxy formation and evolution, as well as in the use of new technologies to enable breakthrough discoveries in astronomy. He led the Gemini Deep Deep Survey and is co-Principal Investigator of Project Dragonfly, a radical new concept to image the Universe using an array of small telescopes. He currently serves as Canadian representative on the James Webb Space Telescope’s Advisory Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Gemini Observatory. He has received many awards for his research and teaching, including a Steacie Fellowship, the Martin Prize of the Canadian Astronomical Society and the University of Toronto’s Outstanding Teaching Award.

Cendes

Yvette Cendes

Talk Titles:

Is Anyone Out There? Radio Astronomy and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Supernovae: Witnessing Cosmic Explosions

Talk Languages:

English, Hungarian

Yvette Cendes is a PhD candidate at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. She uses radio telescopes to study black holes and exploding stars. She has interned at the SETI Institute, where she developed a passion for the radio search for extraterrestrial life. Yvette is also an avid science writer, with articles appearing in magazines such as Discover, Astronomy, and Sky & Telescope.

Dr. Bryan Gaensler

Dr. Bryan Gaensler

Talk Titles:

The Dish, The Desert and The Dawn of the Universe

How the Cosmos Will Kill You

Magnets in the Sky

The World Records of the Universe

Fire and Ice: The Hottest and Coldest Places in the Universe

Warp Drive and Aliens: The Scientific Perspective

Gender and Equity: The Cosmic Perspective

 

Talk Languages:

English

Bryan Gaensler is the Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He is a leading international researcher in cosmic magnetism, supernova explosions and interstellar gas. His research focuses on why the Universe is magnetic, as well as on the study of transient phenomenon as a unique probe of fundamental physics.

Dr. Noah Hammond

Dr. Noah Hammond

Talk Titles:

The Frozen Heart of Pluto: Uncovering the Mysteries of our Favourite Dwarf Planet

Extraterrestrial Oceans across the Solar System

How Many Alien Civilizations Might Exist?

Talk Languages:

English

Noah Hammond studies the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. These moons may have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crusts. He uses spacecraft images of their surfaces to understand what might be happening inside. He uses his background in geology to investigate the processes that shape the surfaces of planets and moons. He has also worked at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) and is interested in whether life might exist outside of planet Earth.

Dr. Renee Hlozek

Dr. Renée Hložek

Talk Titles:

The Dark and Beautiful universe

Watching the Fiery Beginnings of the Universe from the Atacama Desert

Why STEM Needs Diversity and What We Can Do to Help

Dark Matter and Dark Energy: Why Are They Different and Why You Should Care!

Talk Languages:

English, French

Renée Hlozek is an Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics within the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on theoretical cosmology and ‘astro-statistics’; she answers questions about the structure of the universe, its initial conditions and its eventual fate. She uses data from telescopes around the world like the Atacama Cosmology Telescope that measures microwave light left over from the Big Bang; and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope which is currently under construction and will measure the night sky in visible light, scanning the whole sky once every three days. She is a Rhodes Scholar and a TED Senior Fellow, and was named one of the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans for 2012.

Matzner

Dr. Christopher Matzner

Talk Titles:

Cosmic origins of everyday life

Spectacular deaths of massive stars

Star clusters: engines of galactic turmoil

Giant black holes and their secret lives

Talk Languages:

English

Dr. Matzner’s broad research involves the births and deaths of stars and the life cycle of matter within galaxies. His recent projects focus on the creation of stellar binaries and star clusters, the energetic motions caused by giant nebulae, supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts, and how some unlucky stars get shredded by black holes. Click to visit Dr. Matzner’s web site.

Johanna Nagy

Dr. Johanna Nagy

Talk Titles:

Scientific Ballooning in Antarctica

Talk Languages:

English

Johanna Nagy is a Dunlap Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. She studies the Universe when it was less than 1 second old by using a telescope that flies around Antarctica on a balloon. She can talk about how such telescopes are built and flown as well as doing science in Antarctica.

Alysa Obertas

Alysa Obertas

Talk Titles:

How to Destroy a Planet

Talk Languages:

English

Alysa Obertas is a PhD candidate in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Her research is on planetary dynamics–the study of how planets move. She investigates how closely the planets in a solar system can orbit their star without crashing into one another, as well as what happens when they get too close. Alysa’s passion for dynamics goes beyond science, and she dances ballet in her spare time.

Percy

Dr. John Percy

Talk Titles:

The Amazing Universe

Toronto’s Astronomical Heritage

The Birth, Life, and Bizarre Deaths of the Stars

Common Misconceptions about the Universe: From Everyday Life to the Big Bang

Archaeoastronomy: The Astronomy of Civilizations Past

Talk Languages:

English

John Percy is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and in Science Education. His research deals with the nature and evolution of the stars. He is also active in astronomy education, at all levels, throughout the world. He has received many awards for his work in education and outreach, most recently the 2013 Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Reid

Dr. Michael Reid

Talk Titles:

Misconceptions about the Big Bang

Life in the Cosmos

The Lives and Deaths of Stars

The Search for Earth-like Planets

Talk Languages:

English

Dr. Reid’s research area is star formation–the process of turning vast clouds of gas and dust into new stars. He teaches several classes in introductory astronomy for non-scientists and frequently gives public talks on topics spanning all of astronomy. He will happily create a new presentation on a topic of your choice, or can deliver one of his prepared favourites.

Rein

Dr. Hanno Rein

Talk Titles:

Exoplanets: Strange New Worlds

Saturn’s Rings and Cassini

Talk Languages:

English

Dr. Hanno Rein wants to find out how planetary systems form. He maintains a large database of all discovered exoplanets, planets outside our own Solar System. Using large super-computers, he is simulating the evolution of planets and Saturn’s rings.

Wu

Dr. Diana Valencia

Talk Titles:

From Earth to Super-Earths and Beyond

Making a Habitable Planet

Talk Languages:

English, Spanish

Dr. Valencia’s goal is to understand the nature and evolution of new classes of planets: Super-Earths and Mini-Neptunes. Although the most common types of planets in our galaxy, they are absent form our Solar System, and thus we know little about them. Aside from studying the compositional and evolutionary differences between Super-Earths and Mini-Neptunes, my research goals also cover determining what makes a planet habitable.

Vanderline

Dr. Keith Vanderlinde

Talk Titles:

Science at the South Pole

Cosmology, Cell Phones, and Video Games

Talk Languages:

English

Dr. Vanderlinde’s research concerns the earliest eras of the universe. He uses telescopes all over the world–including Antarctica–to study the the cosmic microwave background, which is the oldest light in the universe. Dr. Vanderlinde is an engaging speaker who gives highly entertaining and informative accounts of what it’s like to do astronomy in Antarctica.

Jennifer West

Dr. Jennifer West

Talk Titles:

The Universe in a Nutshell

Revealing the Invisible Universe with Radio Telescopes

Nature’s Supercolliders: The Extreme Environments of Stellar Graveyards

What Happens When All the Dark Places Are Gone?

Talk Languages:

English

Dr. West is a Postdoctoral Fellow who uses large radio surveys to study magnetic fields in the universe. She is also enthusiastic about astronomy education and outreach. A long time member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), she is the recipient of the 2011 International Dark Sky Association’s Dark Sky Defender Award and the 2010 RASC’s Ken Chilton Prize for her contributions to astronomy education and outreach.

CJ Woodford

Charles J. Woodford

Talk Titles:

Gravitational Waves: Sirens of the Universe”

Talk Languages:

English

CJ is a PhD candidate in the Department of Physics and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on simulations of binary black holes, and especially on turning these simulations into tools to help detect gravitational waves.

Wu

Dr. Yanqin Wu

Talk Titles:

Extrasolar planets

The origin of the solar system

Talk Languages:

English, Mandarin, Cantonese

Yanqin Wu is an associate professor of astronomy. She is engaged with studying the formation of Solar system and extra-solar planetary systems. Problems she has studied include, e.g., the survival of Mercury, the formation of Kuiper belt, Pluto and its moons, the migration of Jovian planets in extra-solar systems, and planets detected by the Kepler space mission.