Institute for Computational Astrophysics

News & Events

For the recent Research Papers which are in preparation or have been submitted for publication, click here.

July, 2014

Dr. Robert Deupree, ICA Director and Canada Research Chair in Computational Astrophysics for the past eleven years, is retiring at the end of July. He and his wife, Jan, will be moving to the Portland, Oregon area to be closer to their two sons. He will still be working with his current Ph. D. student, Mr. Diego Castañeda, as he completes his degree research. This past year a search was held and his proposed replacement put forward as a candidate for a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. An announcement will be made in the next few months assuming the candidate is successful in obtaining the Canada Research Chair. In the meantime Dr. Rob Thacker has agreed to serve as Acting Director of the ICA. The celebration of Dr. Deupree’s retirement by the Department of Astronomy and Physics was held on July 25 and is highlighted on the Astronony and Physics website:

 August, 2013

Opps..this was missed from December, 2012:

Mr. Diego Castañeda successfully defended his M.Sc. thesis, entitled “The Effects of Differential Rotation on the Spectral Energy Distribution and Line Profiles for Models of the Rapidly Rotating Star α Oph " on 18 December 2012.  Dr. Robert Deupree, ICA Director, is his supervisor.  The examining Committee consisted of Drs. Ian Short and Phillip Bennett. Diego has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at SMU and will continue under Dr. Deupree’s supervision. 

Congratulations to Dr. James Wurster who successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis entitled “Feedback from Active Galactic Nuclei: A Study of It's Impact and Numerical Implementations” on Thursday, August 22. His research was supervised by Dr. Robert Thacker and the external examiner was Dr. Michael Balogh, University of Waterloo. The other thesis defense committee members were Drs. Luigi Gallo and David Clarke.  James is now working as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Daniel Price at Monash University in Australia.

June, 2013

Michael Gruberbauer 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). Gruberbauer’s thesis introduces a probabilistic approach to analyzing asteroseismic data. His method allows for the treatment of systematic errors, nuisance parameters, and the correct normalization of all probabilities. The thesis is based on three published research papers. The first paper described the new approach. The second paper applied the method to the Sun resolving the abundance controversy and highlighting problems with the solar model and its age determination. The third paper applied his approach to a number of Kepler observed stars, showing how to deal with the surface effect that had here-to-for stalled asteroseismic research on solar-type stars. Gruberbauer was a recipient of a Vanier Fellowship and is the author of over 40 refereed journal articles. He plans to return to Austria to undertake a new career in meteorology.

March, 2013

News&EventsImage1Data Cave Art Show and Lecture

The ICA and Saint Mary’s University sponsored a lecture and 3D art exhibition presented by Lisa Frank, a Senior Research Fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois. The lecture was Wednesday, March 27. There were viewings of the exhibit after the lecture.

Ph.D. student James Wurster has been offered and accepted a postdoctoral position at Monash University in Australia with Dr. Daniel Price. James is currently working on simulations of feedback from active galactic nuclei and will defend his thesis in the summer. The postdoctoral position will see him return to conducting research on star formation which he worked on previously for his undergraduate honours thesis with Dr. Shantanu Basu. 

Former ICA post-doc Dr. Pascal Elahi has also accepted a position in Australia, this time with Dr. Geraint Lewis of the University of Sydney. Pascal will be work on developing a library of n-body simulation models to aid the development of optimal galaxy survey strategies.

February, 2013

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, 2013

Dave Williamson successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis, entitled "The Origin and Evolution of Cold Gaseous Structures in Galaxies and Galactic Outflows", on Friday, January 18. His thesis research was supervised by ICA faculty member, Dr. Rob Thacker. The external examiner was Dr. Hugo Martel from Laval University. Other thesis defense committee examiners were ICA faculty Drs. Robert Deupree and Marcin Sawicki. Dave had taken a year out to teach English in South Korea, but will be returning to Canada in September 2013 to take up a post-doctoral position in galaxy formation at the University of Laval with Dr Hugo Martel.

Anneya Golob successfully defended her M.Sc. thesis, entitled "Blue BX Galaxies Breaking Bad" on 14 January.  Dr. Marcin Sawicki, ICA faculty member, was her supervisor.  The examining Committee consisted of Drs. Robert Thacker and Luigi Gallo. Anneya has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at SMU and will continue under Dr. Sawicki’s supervision. 

December, 2012

Dr. Mike Casey, who received his Ph. D. in the ICA in 2011 and elected to remain in Halifax for personal reasons, has accepted a research position at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

September, 2012

Stephen Condran, ACEnet System Administrator for the (serial) Brasdor cluster, has joined ACEnet employees Phil Romkey and Sergiy Khan located at Saint Mary's University. The ICA supplies administrative support at Saint Mary's for these ACEnet employees.

June, 2012

Ph. D. student Chris Geroux has accepted a postdoctoral position with Dr. Isabelle Baraffe at the University of Exeter. Chris is nearing the end of his thesis research on 3D hydrodynamic simulations of the interaction of convection and stellar pulsation in RR Lyrae stars. At Exeter he will be working on 3D simulations of stellar accretion and other multidimensional problems associated with stars.

May, 2012

The most recent ICA post doctoral fellows have come to the end of their terms in the ICA.

Dr. Fernando Peña, working with Dr. Deupree on oscillations of rapidly rotating stars, has taken up a post doctoral position at Dalhousie University in Halifax related to mathematical modeling and data analysis in medical research.

Dr. Taro Sato, working with Dr. Marcin Sawicki, has returned to the US.

Dr. Jon Ramsey, who completed his PhD with Dr. David Clarke in 2011, has returned as an ICA visitor for about two weeks. During this time he and Dr. Clarke will be finishing a couple of papers related to Jon’s thesis work. Jon currently has a postdoctoral position with Dr. Cornelius Dullemond at the University of Heidelberg, where they are working to improve the treatment of radiation in hydrodynamic disc models in an attempt to further constrain not only the timescale for disc evaporation (~ 106 years), but also which "type" of radiation is the most important: X-rays, Extreme UV, or Far UV.  They hope the results of this research will provide constraints for the planet formation process.

October, 2011

The ICA is pleased to note that two ICA students, Ms. Liz Arcila Osejo and Mr. Mike Casey, successfully defended their theses this September.

Ms. Arcila Osejo’s Master’s thesis is entitled “Star-Forming and Passive Galaxioes at z≈2 in the CHFT Legacy Survey”, and the work was performed under the guidance of ICA faculty member Dr. Marcin Sawicki. Ms. Arcila Osejo will be continuing in the Ph. D. program at Saint Mary’s under Dr. Sawicki’s supervision. 

Mr. Casey's Ph.D. thesis dissertation was entitled “Analysis of Pre-Main Sequence δ Scuti Stars” and was performed with Dr. David Guenther as supervisor. Mike plans to remain in the Halifax area.

July, 2011

The ICA is pleased to announce that Jonathan Ramsey successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis dissertation, “Into the void: Simulations of protostellar jets from Keplerian discs extended to observational length scales". Jon is the second student to have completed his Ph. D. in the ICA. The thesis committee was composed of Drs. David Clarke, Jon’s supervisor, Rob Thacker, and Luigi Gallo, and Tom Jones.  Dr. Jones served as the external examiner and is a leading expert in the field of computational magneto-hydrodynamics from the University of Minnesota. Jon will be taking up a post doctoral position with Dr. Cornelius (Kees) Dullemond, head of the planet formation group at Universität Heidelberg. Dr. Jones spent an extra couple of days at the ICA for discussions with Dr. Clarke and other ICA members.

June, 2011

Astrophysicists Brad Gibson and Kate Pilkington are visiting the ICA for the summer, funded in part by the ICA Visitor Program. Professor Gibson comes from the University of Central Lancashire's Jeremiah Horrocks Institute where he is Chair of Computational Astrophysics. Professor Gibson's primary research is studying the formation and evolution of galaxies similar to the Milky Way. His recent work has led to the definitive determination of the expansion rate of the Universe, for which the 2009 Gruber Prize in Cosmology was awarded, and the identification of the origin of the mysterious gas clouds that surround our galaxy. While at Saint Mary's, he will be using his expertise in modeling galactic-scale chemical evolution with the hydrodynamics skills of local collaborators, including ICA member Dr. Rob Thacker.

Kate Pilkington is completing her PhD research on the origin of dwarf galaxies under the supervision of Dr. Francesco Calura of Bologna Observatory. The team aims to make extensive use of the ACEnet high performance computing consortium, which several ICA members played a significant role in creating.

Gareth Few is a 3rd year PhD student within the University of Central Lancashire's Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, visiting the ICA for 3 weeks. Working under the supervision of Brad Gibson and Stephanie Courty (Lyon), Gareth's research is in the field of galactic chemodynamics. Gareth makes extensive use of the RAMSES Adaptive Mesh Refinement code to simulate statistically significant numbers of high-resolution Milky Way-like analogs in a range of field and loose group environments. As part of his PhD, he is characterising the chemical and dynamical properties of the galaxies' structural components and searching for imprints of their resective local environment within their observable properties.

May, 2011

Mr. Diego Castañeda, a Master’s student in the Department of Astronomy and Physics and the ICA, now works part time with the Data Cave both helping users visualize their work and providing tours.

The ICA hosted the (first) annual ACEnet User’s meeting in Halifax on April 28. The half day meeting was focused on discussions of reviving the ACEnet internal academic management structure, of the interactions between ACEnet and Compute Canada, of  the future of high performance computing in Canada, and, naturally, of funding.

February, 2011

The ICA is pleased to announce that Dr. Marcin Sawicki, Associate Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary’s University, has become a member of the ICA. Although the ICA was envisioned in terms of computational simulations, Dr. Sawicki’s joining the ICA reflects the need for observers to use high performance computing to analyze their increasingly complex and large data sets. Dr. Sawicki’s research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution early in the universe. Much of his data is obtained from large multinational facilities such as the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and the ground based Keck, Magellan, and Gemini telescopes.

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!