President’s Award for Excellence in Research: Dr. Luigi Gallo

Dr. Luigi Gallo was honoured at Winter Convocation with the President’s Award for Excellence in Research for his contributions to astrophysics.

As an astrophysicist in high-profile international research projects, Dr. Luigi Gallo has been involved in major missions with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA, and the Canadian Space Agency, and has received more than $10-million in funding for projects such as the Astro-H Metrology System.

Dr. Gallo’s research interests include supermassive black holes, or active galactic nuclei, and X-rays emitted from the innermost regions of black hole environments; accretion-powered systems of all scales (e.g. cataclysmic variables, X-ray binaries, AGN); and the definition and realization of future X-ray missions. His work has led to discoveries that have altered scientists’ understanding of black holes, their formation, growth, behaviour and their influence on the evolution of galaxies.

After a stint in industry, Dr. Gallo returned to academia and completed his PhD at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany, and then joined JAXA before becoming a faculty member at Saint Mary’s University in 2007.

A prolific publisher, Dr. Gallo is credited with more than 80 successful observing proposals and more than 150 refereed publications written as part of his research on black holes and instrumentation, work with peers, and as a supervisor to many of his students and postdocs. He has also published work with large collaborations, including papers by the Hitomi Collaboration, which he made significant contributions to, as well as other publications on future missions.

As a professor, Dr. Gallo is focused on supporting the next generation of researchers, co-writing papers with undergraduate and graduate students who have gone on to higher-level studies and research of their own. He contributes significant time and knowledge to the advancement of his field through committee work and outreach initiatives and as a member of the Canadian Astronomical Society.

The President's Award for Excellence in Research honours continued exceptional contributions to research and scholarship conducted by a full-time Saint Mary's University faculty member. More information can be found at

Congratulations Dr. Luigi Gallo!

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Researchers use the James Webb Space Telescope to view growing “baby galaxy”

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2023 Undergrad Mini Symposium

Left to right: Jacob O’Connell, Lucas Dunham, Harrison Ward, Lucy  Pothier-Bogoslowski, Katherine Myers, Rebecca Hamel, Zachary Saunders

Astronomy & Physics would like to congratulate all the presenters in this year's Undergrad Mini-Symposium: Jacob O’Connell, Lucas Dunham, Harrison Ward, Lucy  Pothier-Bogoslowski, Katherine Myers, Rebecca Hamel, Zachary Saunders

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SMU researcher part of international astronomy mission XRISM

Read the full story here.

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Saint Mary's University and the James Webb Space Telescope

Hexagonal elements making up the James Webb Space Telescope mirror

See full story:  SMU and JWST

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IRIS provides a glimpse of deformation in helium-8

L-R: Sebastien Roy-Garand (SMU Undergrad student), Preetinder Jassal (SMU Ph.D. student), Greg Hackman (TRIUMF Scientist), Dr. Rituparna Kanungo (IRIS project leader & SMU Professor), Matthias Holl (SMU-TRIUMF IRIS PDF), Conor Waterfield (SMU student). Photo credit: TRIUMF.

See stories at:

SMU News



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We're seeking to hire a full-time Astronomy Technician

Burke-Gaffney Observatory at SMU

Search is being run via CareerBeacon.  Selection process to begin after 7 Jan 2022: 

Science Technician II - Astronomy

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Congratulations to three students for successful thesis defences!

Margaret Buhariwalla defends MSc thesis

August 16, 2021

Congratulations to Margaret who successfully defended her thesis on “Weird NLS1s: A Multi-epoch, broadband analysis to study the X-ray emission in Mrk 1239 and WKK 4438”.  She worked with Dr. Luigi Gallo for her MSc and Drs. Austin and Short were on her examination committee.

Well done, Margaret!

Kamalpreet Kaur defends MSc thesis

August 12, 2021

Congratulations to Kamalpreet who successfully defended her thesis entitled “The Nature, Environments, and Origin of Post-Starburst Galaxies”.  She worked with Dr. Ivana Damjanov for her MSc and Drs. Sawicki and Gallo were on her examination committee.

Well done, Kamalpreet!

Adam Gonzalez defends his PhD thesis

August 10, 2021

Congratulations to Adam Gonzalez who successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, "Probing high-velocity outflows in active galactic nuclei and their relationship to the inner disc environments with X-ray observations" before his thesis defense committee, Drs. Ivana Damjanov (Saint Mary's University), Phil Bennett (Dal), Filippo D’Ammando (INAF – Institute of Radio Astronomy, Bologna), and his advisor, Luigi Gallo (SMU).

Well done Dr Gonzales!! 

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Congratulations to two students for successful thesis defences!

Nolan Dickson defends MSc thesis

August 12, 2022

Congratulations to Nolan who successfully defended his thesis on “Multimass modelling of Milky Way globular clusters and implications on their dark remnant content and stellar initial mass function”. He worked with Dr. Vincent Hénault-Brunet for his MSc and Drs. Sawicki and Thacker were on his examination committee.

Well done, Nolan!


Martin Hellmich defends MSc thesis

August 12, 2022

Congratulations to Martin Hellmich who successfully defended his thesis on “Ocean-air N2O trace gas fluxes in Halifax Harbour derived from Open-Path FTIR measurements”. He worked with Dr. Aldona Wiacek for his MSc (Applied Science) and his examination committee consisted of Dr. Van Proosdij (SMU - Geography and Environmental Studies), Dr. Flesch (U. Alberta - Earth and Atmospheric Sciences), and Dr. Else (U. Calgary - Geography - External Examiner). 

Well done, Martin!

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