Astronomy & Physics
Why choose SMU's Astronomy Graduate Program?
Generally, because you have always wanted to study astronomy. But specifically, because we offer challenging M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs and provide comprehensive, current, and expertly taught courses; because we emphasize research; because we provide a sense of community among our 7+ astronomy faculty and ~12 graduate students; because we are located in exotic Nova Scotia (Halifax is a medium sized city located on the ocean, with lots to do in town, and within easy reach of the grand Canadian outdoors); and because we provide full financial support to all our graduate students.
What can you do with an M.Sc. or Ph.D. in Astronomy from SMU?
If you can pass our astrophysics graduate program, then you probably have the self-discipline to do whatever you put your mind to. But specifically, many of our M.Sc. graduates continue on with a Ph.D. Those that do not, take up jobs that utilize their learned practical skills in computer programming, data analysis, complex problem solving, mathematics, and physics. Most of our Ph.D. graduates look world-wide for a post-doctoral positions (grant supported research with a senior scientist---a stepping stone to a future academic position). Some will look for other ways to apply their research training, continuing on to study medicine, economics, or education.
Coming Soon. Profiles of our graduate students: where they came from, why they came to SMU, and what they are studying.
The Department is currently seeking applications for a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Astronomy.
|Phil Bennett (adjunct)||Outer atmospheres of cool stars|
Kamil Bradler (Adjunct)
|Louise Edwards (adjunct)||Formation and evolution of galaxies|
|Adam Sarty||Electromagnetic properties of nucleon and light nuclei; Teaching methodologies|
|Marcin Sawicki||Observational cosmology; Formation and evolution of galaxies|
|Ian Short||Stellar atmospheres|
|Rob Thacker||Large scale structure and galaxy formation|
|David Turner (emeritus)||Young to intermediate age open clusters and variable stars|
|Gary Welch (emeritus)||Interstellar medium of early-type galaxies|
Summer 2013 Dr. Kanungo's Research Collaboration Receives $1.6 million CFI Grant
Saint Mary's nuclear physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo has received $1.6 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation in support of an advanced research facility that will allow her to recreate, purify, and condition rare isotopes that haven't existed on the planet for millions of years. "This exciting area of research has many potential practical applications," says Steven Smith, Dean of Science at Saint Mary's. "Researchers, industry, and government partners alike will be following the CANREB project closely." The CANadian Rare-isotope facility with Electron-Beam ion source (CANREB) project is led by Saint Mary's University, the University of Manitoba, and Advanced Applied Physics Solutions, Inc., in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, the University of Guelph, Simon Frasier University, and TRIUMF. TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics. It is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of Canadian universities that Saint Mary's University.
28 August 2013 Kirsten Bonson
Congratulations to Kirsten Bonson who successfully defended her MSc thesis, "A deep multi-epoch X-ray analysis of the unobscured Seyfert 1 galaxy HE 0436-4717". The members of her examining committee were Professors Robert Thacker and Roby Austin, and her supervisor was Luigi Gallo. Kirsten has been accepted to the PhD program at SMU where she will work on X-ray observations of active galaxies.
23 August 2013 Mitchell Young
Congratulations to Mitchell Young who successfully defended his M.Sc. thesis entitled NLTE 1.5D Modelling of Red Giant Stars on 21 August 2013. Mitch investigated how the inferred properties of bright old red giant stars depend on whether computer models of their atmospheres take into account variation in temperature across their surfaces and realistic treatment of how the gas absorbs light. Mitch found that estimates of the red giant's "surface" temperature using standard methods can be as much as 500 Kelvin (K) higher than the true average temperature of the star's surface. This represents an important step forward in our ability to accurately characterize these stars, and to use them as probes of Galactic structure and history. Mitch mastered the use of sophisticated computer modelling, and developed important tools for simulating realistically observable stellar quantities.
22August 2013 James Wurster, Ph.D.
Congratulations to Dr. James Wurster who successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, "Feedback from Active Galactic Nuclei: A Study of its Impact and Numerical Implementations" Supervisor Professor Rob Thacker. Committee: Professors David Clarke, Luigi Gallo, and Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo).
August 8, 2013 Sherry Hurlburt, MSc
Congratulations to Sherry Hurlburt who successfully defended her MSc thesis, "Strong Fe-Lα Fluorescent Emission in Type-1 Seyfert Galaxies". Her work was supervised by Professor Luigi Gallo and the Committee members were Professors Robert Deupree and Kamil Bradler.
June 7, 2013, Michael Gruberbauer, Ph.D.
Congratulations to Michael Gruberbauer who successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, "Bayesian Asteroseismology" before his thesis defense committee, Drs. Robert Deupree (Saint Mary's University), Robert Thacker (SMU), Travis Metcalfe (National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder), and, his supervisor, David Guenther (SMU). His thesis describes a new probabilistic method for the asteroseismic analysis of stellar structure and evolution, which he applied to the Sun and to solar-type stars observed by NASA's Kepler satellite. Gruberbauer, who held a Vanier Fellowship, authored over two dozen research papers while he was a student. He plans to return to Austria to undertake a new career in meteorology.
January 31, 2013, Dr. Chris Geroux, Ph.D.
Congratulations to Dr. Chris Geroux who successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis entitled “The Interaction Between Multi-Dimensional Convection and Radial Stellar Pulsation” on Thursday, January 31. His research was supervised by Dr. Robert Deupree and the external examiner was Dr. Robert Stellingwerf of Stellingwerf Consulting. The other thesis defense committee members were Drs. Luigi Gallo and Ian Short. Chris’ research focused on 1D, 2D, and 3D hydrodynamic simulations of radially pulsating RR Lyrae variables with the objective of computing full amplitude solutions for comparison with observed light curves. Convection, which is believed to limit the pulsational amplitude near the red edge of the RR Lyrae gap, arises naturally in the 2D and 3D calculations without recourse to a phenomenological approach such as the local mixing length theory. A particularly interesting result is that Chris’ light curve for a model near the red edge resembles that of an observed star significantly more closely than do light curves computed with 1D mixing length treatments. Chris is now working as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Isabelle Baraffe at the University of Exeter.
January 18th, 2013. David Williamson, Ph.D.
Congratulations to Dr. David Williamson who sucessfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, "The Origin and Evolution of Cold Gaseous Structures in Galaxies and Galactic Outflows" Supervisor Professor Rob Thacker. Committee: Professors Marcin Sawicki, Bob Deupree, and Hugo Martel (Universite Laval).
David's thesis examines the formation and evolution cold gaseous structures in galaxies and galactic outflows in two distinct scenarios. The first investigation details the impact of the collisions between molecular clouds on the overall viscous evolution of galactic disks. Previous analytic estimates suggested the time-scale associated with this process is 1000 Gyr, far in excess of the Hubble time. David showed these calculations are incorrect and numerical results, along with a new analytical approach, show that the viscous time-scale can be shorter than the lifetime of the Universe. The second part of the thesis examines the creation of cold clouds in outflows from modeled Ultra-luminous Infrared Galaxies (ULIRGS). Using adaptive mesh refinement simulations David has shown that 3d simulations can approximately reproduce the key features of absorption lines in these systems, such as line widths. Including sub-grid turbulence models was not found to improve the accuracy of these models and detailed convergence studies will likely be necessary in the future to determine precisely the nature of cold clouds in outflows.
January 14, 2013. Anneya Golob, M.Sc.
Congratulations to Anneya Golob who successfully defended her M.Sc. thesis, "Blue BX Galaxies Breaking Bad." Supervisor Professor Marcin Sawicki. Committee: Professors Robert Thacker and Luigi Gallo. Anneya has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at SMU.
short: Jaspreet Randhawa, Maan Hani
Friday January 17, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Tyler Desjardins, University of Western Ontario
Friday January 24, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Casey Lambert, CSA and SMU
Friday January 31, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Jorge Moreno, University of Victoria
Friday February 14, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Danilo Marchesini, Tufts University
Friday February 28, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Ted Jacobson, University of Maryland
Friday March 7, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr George Chartas, College of Charleston
Friday March 14, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Peter Marzlin, St Francis Xavier University
Friday March 21, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Stephanie LaMassa, Yale University
Friday March 28, 2014, 3:00pm, AT101
Dr Megan Eckart, NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre
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