Institute for Computational Astrophysics

News Archive

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

February, 2010

The ICA is settling into its new quarters in the nearly completed Atrium Building on the Saint Mary’s University Campus. The move was made with only the slightest disruption, and the accommodations are a significant improvement over our previous quarters.

The upgrades to the ACEnet Data Cave have been completed to make it useful for exploring 3D numerical simulations in an immersive environment. Upgrades included both software to include volume rendering and hardware to make the cave able to animate large ICA data sets without jerkiness. Training for ICA users related to both the enhancements and the presentation of a “cookbook” on how to quickly get from the 3D simulation data files to viewing the 3D simulations in the cave will be presented the first week of February.

Dr. Pascal Elahi from Queen's University will join the ICA from 2 February to 12 August as a post doctoral fellow working with Dr. Rob Thacker.


November 2009

Dr. Hideyuki Saio spent a month as a ICA visitor working with Chris Cameron on oscillations of magnetic stars and with Bob Deupree on oscillations of rotating stars.

The ICA hosted the second Halifax Conference on Computational Astrophysics in the middle of October. More than 50 attendees heard talks on computations of galaxy formation, cosmology, star formation and the interstellar medium, solar system dynamics, and stellar astrophysics.

Dr. Fernando Pena will join the ICA as a post doctoral fellow in November working with Bob Deupree on hydrodynamic simulations related to stellar structure, evolution, and oscillations.


16-18 October 2009

ICA Conference
2nd Halifax Meeting on Computational Astrophysics the 18th Kingston Meeting

The ICA is hosting a conference on computational astrophysics on October 16-18, 2009. It will be held on the Saint Mary’s University campus in Halifax. We expect to have five sessions and papers are solicited from any research involving high performance computing in astrophysics. More details can be found at the conference web site.


July 2009

ACEnet has recently made its Round 2 Post Doctoral awards. These awards are based upon proposals submitted by Atlantic Canadian faculty members who utilize ACEnet facilities and ranked by an external committee. For successful proposals ACEnet provides half funding up to $20,000 per year for a maximum two years.

This round ICA faculty have received four awards:

  • Dr. Rob Thacker extending Dr. Eduard Vorobyov's current post doctoral position for a third (the maximum number of years ACEnet will fund) year,
  • Dr. Ian Short,
  • Dr. Robert Deupree for candidates yet to be identified,
  • Dr. David Guenther to support Dr. Chris Cameron for the second year of his CITA National post doctoral position.

April 2009

Plaskett Award


News&EventsImage2The ICA is pleased to announce that Dr. Catherine Lovekin, the first ICA and Department of Astronomy and Physics

Ph. D. recipient, has been awarded the Plaskett medal for this year. The Plaskett medal is awarded jointly by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada “to the Ph.D. graduate from a Canadian university who is judged to have submitted the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics in the preceding two years”, according to Dr. Paul Hickson, the CASCA president.

Catherine’s thesis, entitled “Non-radial Oscillations in Rotating Intermediate Mass Stars”, is based on her research into the modes of oscillation of moderately and rapidly rotating stars and the observable effects of these oscillations. Her thesis committee was composed of her research supervisor, ICA Director Dr. Robert Deupree, ICA faculty members Drs. David Guenther and Ian Short, and Dr. Arthur Cox, the external examiner.

After her successful defense in August, 2008, Catherine took up a post doctoral position with Dr. Marie-Jo Goupil working on stellar models associated with COROT satellite data at the Observatoire de Paris in Meudon. Congratulations, Catherine!


December 2008

The ICA Annual Report for 2008 has been completed. To view click here.


September 2008

September is a time in the academic calendar during which people come and go, and this year is no exception for the ICA.

Dr. Joris van Bever took up a position at the Free University of Brussels at the beginning of October upon the completion of his ICA post doctoral fellowship.

Dr. Catherine Lovekin, the ICA's first Ph. D., is now in Paris beginning a post doctoral fellowship with Dr. Marie-Jo Goupil at Meudon.

Master's student Nicholas MacDonald completed his degree with Dr. David Clarke and is spending a year teaching English as a second language in Greece.

Finally, Mr. James Wurster has joined the ICA as a Ph. D. student working with Dr. Rob Thacker.


August 2008

BothNick MacDonald (Master's) and Catherine Lovekin (Ph. D.) successfully defended their theses this month. Nick utilized the Data Cave to show those present the results of his 3D MHD jet simulations. This is the first time the Data Cave has been used for a thesis presentation. Catherine's is not only the first Ph. D. thesis to be completed in the ICA, but also in all of the Arts and Sciences at Saint Mary's.

ICA's First PhD

The ICA is pleased to announce that Catherine Lovekin successfully defended her Ph. D. thesis on August 14, 2008. Her thesis is entitled “Non-Radial Oscillations of Rotating Intermediate Mass Stars”. The thesis committee was composed of Drs. Robert Deupree (thesis supervisor), David Guenther, and Ian Short, with Dr. Arthur N. Cox, formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory and an expert in pulsating stars, serving as the external examiner.

Dr. Cox gave a colloquium at the ICA Friday afternoon, and there was a reception celebrating both Dr. Cox’s visit and Catherine’s successful defense at the Deupree’s on Friday night.

Catherine’s Ph. D. is not only the first for the ICA and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, but also the first in any of the sciences at Saint Mary’s. Catherine is busy making the suggested modifications to her thesis before taking up her post doctoral position in France in the middle of September.


June 2008

The Data Cave Grand Opening was held on June 10. This included a number of external visitors and extensive press coverage. For more information, click here.


May 2008

The ICA, ACEnet, and Saint Mary's University have set the date for the Data Cave Grand Opening to be 10 June.  Invitations have been sent to approximately 200 individuals, including ACEnet users, ACEnet employees, and members of agencies funding ACEnet.


March 2008

Discussions are taking place between ACEnet, SUN Microsystems, and Iowa State University about upgrading the Data Cave software to meet the needs of ICA researchers. A visit to the ICA by Iowa State Data Cave code developer, Mr. Gerrick Bivins, during the week of March 17 went some way to refining the requirements. It is expected that the statement of work will be agreed within the next few weeks. 

ICA graduate student Mr. Chris Geroux has been developing software using OpenGL and the data cave graphics library CAVELib for visualizing a 3D hydrodynamic simulation of the core helium flash. The development of the 3D vector visualization of the turbulent flow has been completed, allowing the user to visualize the entire calculation or to interactively isolate any particular region of the flow.

The four ACEnet graphics workstations have been installed in the Graphics Workroom and are available. All machines are dual boot (Linux and Windows) to meet various ACEnet researcher needs. Each workstation has two thirty inch monitors to provide high resolution visualization of user data.

Catherine Lovekin, the first doctoral candidate of the Department of Astronomy and Physics and the ICA, has accepted a post doctoral position at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon.  She will be working with Marie-Jo Goupil and Marc-Antoine Dupret, using COROT data to study solar type and A-F stars.  The work will focus on convection and convection-related mixing, as well as rotational mixing and its mechanisms. Catherine expects to take up her new position at the beginning of September following the defense of her thesis work on the effects of rapid rotation (both uniform and differential) on radial and nonradial mode pulsation periods and colors.


January 2008

Several significant events have taken place this month. The ACEnet graphics workstation hardware has arrived. One of the workstations has been brought up and the others will be shortly. The hardware is composed of a SUN workstation with a dual boot operating system (Linux and Windows, to match the needs for specific Saint Mary's users) and two thirty inch monitors. There are four workstations in total.

Dr. Nathalie Toque will be completing her post doctoral position in the ICA in February and begins a post doctoral position with Dr. G. Ruediger at Potsdam on March 1.

The Department and the ICA are moving forward with the post doctoral position in ISM studies now that the closing date has passed. We hope to have a candidate by the middle of February.

Finally, the Saint Mary's Board of Governors toured the ACEnet Remote Collaboration Room as part of their inspection of the progress on the renovations to the Science Building.

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December 2007

The purchase order for the Graphics Workroom was let 29 November.  Components have started to arrive, with everything expected to appear  in January 2008.

The ICA Annual Report for 2007 has been completed. To view click here.


November 2007

Members of the ICA featured prominently in a story about the ACEnet Data Cave shown on the CBC National on Tuesday, November 6, 2007. Robert Deupree and graduate student, Jonathan Ramsey, were joined by the ACEnet system administrator stationed at Saint Mary's University, Phil Romkey, in the interview conducted by CBC's Tom Murphy.


October 2007

Dr. Sergiy Khan joins ACEnet on November 26, 2007 as a Computational Research Consultant (HPC) based at Saint Mary's University. Like the four other ACEnet HPC Consultants, Sergiy will provide support at any of the ACEnet institutions. Sergiycomes to ACEnet from the University of Western Ontario where he was a post doctoral fellow working on the atmospheres of magnetic stars.

The ICA is also pleased to welcome Dr. Eduard Vorobyov as a post doctoral fellow. He arrives on November 1 and comes from a post doctoral position at the University of Western Ontario working on galactic structure.

Mr. Chris Geroux successfully defended his Master's thesis, entitled “Effects of Stellar Rotation on Young Cluster HR Diagrams”, on October 19.


September 2007

The CBC spent several hours in the ACEnet Data Cave with ICA members Bob Deupree and Jon Ramsay for an exclusive interview. The resulting story will be shown on The National at a future date. Included were demonstrations of Jon's visualizations of 3D calculations of astrophysical jets by ICA member David Clarke.  

The ICA is pleased to welcome Dr. Rob Thacker as a new faculty member. He took up a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair beginning in September. Please look at Rob's interests on his home page, linked through the ICA Members & Staff page.


August 2007

Both Mr. Joel Tanner and Mr. Aaron Gillich successfully defended their Master's thesis work during the first week of August.

Mr. Tanner's thesis title was “Asteroseismology of Intermediate Mass Stars: Pre-main Sequence Evolution”, for which Dr. David Guenther served as his supervisor.

Mr. Gillich's thesis work was entitled “Effects of Rotation on Stellar Spectra”, and was performed under the joint supervision of Dr. Robert Deupree and Dr. Ian Short.

Ms. Catherine Lovekin has received two scholarships from Girl Guides of Canada this year.  One is a provincial award - the Chief Commissioners Education Support Fund and the other a national scholarship, The Roberta Bondar Scholarship.  Earlier this year she had received the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation of Canada scholarship.


July 2007

The Data Cave training has been completed for selected users.


June 2007

The Data Cave hardware installation is complete.  The Acceptance Test has been successful.  The System Administrator and User Training is scheduled for the week of 16 July.


May 2007

On 22 May the Data Cave equipment arrived (in crates).


March 2007

The Opening Reception for the Remote Collaboration Room was held 23 March.  Click here to view pictures.


January 2007

The construction of the ACEnet space in the extension of the Science Building at Saint Mary's University has been completed. The inSORS Access Grid facility has been installed and tested, and Fakespace and SUN Microsystems personnel have made a site visit to determine the needs for installing the data cave. Installation of the data cave is expected in the spring.

Mr. Phil Romkey, ACEnet Systems Administrator stationed at Saint Mary's, has moved into his new office in the ACEnet space.

Ms. Florence Woolaver begins as the official ICA Assistant on January 18, 2007. She has been serving as temporary help in this role over the last three months.

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Spring/Summer 2006

The ICA is growing! The ACEnet Data Cave space and Technician's space in the Science building are on their way!


July 2006

Arrival of Post Doctoral Fellow Dr. Alexei Razoumov.

"My research interests are in developing numerical algorithms to solve the equations of astrophysical radiation hydrodynamics and applying these techniques to a variety of problems in galaxy and early star formation. Currently I work on modeling radiative feedback from high-redshift star forming regions and understanding how this feedback affects observational properties of early protogalaxies, both in emission and absorption. I am also interested in studying its role on the subsequent generation of star formation, particularly in application to the very first luminous objects in the universe. Over the last few years I've been also involved in the Terascale Supernova Initiative working on code development to model 3D core collapse supernovae, with an emphasis on accurate neutrino transport. This work got me interested in other problems where neutrinos play a role, such as the very high accretion rate flows in collapsar-type and neutron star merger events. I obtained my Ph.D. from UBC in Vancouver and before joining the ICA had postdoctoral stays at UC, San Diego and the Oak Ridge National Lab."


March 2006

Arrival of Post Doctoral Fellow Dr. Nathalie Toque.

Dr. Toque started the ICA post doc fellowship at Saint Mary's University the 1st March, 2006, supervised by Dr. Robert Deupree.

"Our first purpose was to compute the differential rotation in his stellar evolutionary 3D numerical code. Our goal is now to study the influence of hydrodynamical issues on the evolution of main sequence stars.

"The subject of my PhD in Astrophysics was the turbulent diffusion in radiative zones of stars, but I have other skills in Physics. For ten years, I have gotten a professional experience as engineer in a French nucleau research centre. During the same time I obtained a PhD degree in Fluids Mechanics defended in 1996, a Bachelor's degree in Fundamental Physics and a Master's degree in Astrophysics. For the PhD in Fluids Mechanics, I studied the Rayleigh-Taylor and the Richtmyer-Meshkov instabilities developing in imploding systems and contributed to the extent of the imploding systems and contributed to the extent of the self-similar implosion model to the case of a non-homogeneous medium. I developed the ability to do numerical simulations of strong shock waves experiments and spread out this experience during my Master's degree in Astrophysics. I tested a MHD three-dimensional code with the Hartmann problem in order to evaluate the ability of the code to stimulate MHD turbulence. During the PhD degree in Astrophysics, besides my principal research subject, I studied the radioactive transfer in stellar atmospheres and taught a little for the Bachelor's degree. I was also involved in a collaboration with the international TBL team and mad observations of magnetic stars at the observatory of Pic du Midi."

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October 2005

Arrival of Post Doctoral Fellow Dr. Joris Van Bever.

Dr. Van Bever arrived in Halifax on September 23rd 2005 and officially started working on October 1st. Dr. Van Bever's research is situated in understanding the evolution of and modeling the observable properties of young, massive starbursts and their populations of massive stars. "I plan to develop spectral synthesis models of starbursts that incorporate the influence of stellar dynamics in dense super star clusters, by coupling my spectral synthesis code to a self-written N-body code. This will allow me to investigate whether stellar collisions in the dense cores of starbursts are able to affect the results of traditional spectral synthesis models. I obtained my PhD at the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels , Belgium , in May 2004, studying the influence of close binary evolution on the population- and spectral synthesis of young massive starburst regions."


July 2005

Dr. Amanda Karakas' Farewell Lunch was held at The Henry House on July 26, 2005. Amanda has accepted a Post Doctoral position at McMaster University.  We wish Amanda all the best!


April 2005

Catherine Lovekin, Graduate Student within the Department of Astronomy and Physics and the Institute for Computational Astrophysics has been awarded this year's SWAAC (Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada) Award.Congratulations Catherine!

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March 2004

Saint Mary's University is a member of the ACEnet high performance computing (HPC) consortium for Atlantic Canada which has recently received a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to form a regional computing center for Atlantic Canada. ACEnet is currently composed of seven universities, four of which (Saint Mary's, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Saint Francis Xavier University , and the University of New Brunswick ) will house computer hardware. The total CFI award is $9.9 million, 40% of the total $24.75 million which can be spent on the project. Of the CFI award, a little over $2 million will be spent on hardware to be located at Saint Mary's, including a visualization centre and a data cave. The ICA contributed both Saint Mary's participants in writing the successful proposal and serving on the ACEnet management board. Director Robert Deupree is currently the Principal Investigator of ACEnet, and both he and former Acting Director David Clarke are management board members. ACEnet is currently hiring its Chief Technology Officer and is searching for an Executive Director.

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October 2003

Dr. Ian Short has been awarded a CFI grant for $26,500 under their New Opportunities program.


September 2003

The Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust has awarded the ICA a grant for $150,000.

PLUTO, a 32-cpu beowulf parallel computer funded by a grant made to Dr. Joseph Hahn by the CFI's CRC program and by Saint Mary's University now on-line.

ICA Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dr. Alexander Men'shchikov arrived, funded by a grant made to Dr. David Clarkeby NSERC. Research area: computational hydrodynamics.

August 2003

Director's Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Dr. Amanda Karakas arrived. Research area: modeling of stellar interiors and evolution.


July2003

CRC Tier II Chair, Dr. Joseph Hahn arrived. Research area: Planetary system dynamics.


June 2003

The ACEnet consortium, of which SMU is a member and the ICA is a major advocate, submitted a proposal to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for a $28 million project to establish networked high performance computing (HPC) and data visualization infrastructure in Atlantic Canada. Major partners are Memorial University Newfoundland (lead), University of New Brunswick , and Saint Francis Xavier University . Other partners are Mount Allison University , Dalhousie University , and the University of Prince Edward Island.


March 2003

Director and CRC Tier I Chair, Dr. Robert Deupree arrived. Research area: Computational modeling of stellar interiors and evolution.


February 2003

Updated 5 year plan available in tabular format.


February 2003

ICA 's Notice of Intent to apply to the CFI Innovation Fund that was submitted in December was merged with a greater $20 million Atlantic-wide effort for regional HPC, currently dubbed ACEnet.


January 2003

CRC Tier II application for nominee Dr. Joseph Hahn receives "fast track" approval.


January 2003

Saint Mary's University's highest priority new construction on campus: Computational Science Building that will house the ICA , the Department of Astronomy & Physics, and Atlantic Canada's first permanent planetarium. Coming soon: virtual tour.

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December 2002

ICA submits NOI to apply to the CFI Innovation Fund for High Performance Computing (HPC) and data visualization infrastructure, in cooperation with three other institutions in Atlantic Canada.


October 2002

Dr. Robert Deupree (LANL) approved as ICA Director, CRC Tier I Chair.

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