Graduate Students Associated with the Dunlap Institute
Nathan is a second-year graduate student who received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of New Brunswick. His main research interest is galactic dynamics.
Nathan worked with Dunlap Institute Director James Graham and Dunlap astronomer Nicholas Law in attempts to measure stellar occultations by the Kuiper belt object, Quaoar. His observations were done remotely using the Dunlap Institute half-metre telescope in New Mexico. Nathan is continuing this work with Dunlap astronomer Jérome Maire, and is currently characterizing an Electron-Multiplying CCD in order to make similar occultation observations.
Elliot is a first-year graduate student who received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Toronto. His research interests include exoplanets, galaxies and instrumentation.
He is working with Dunlap Prof. Shelley Wright on her Near-Infrared Optical SETI program (NIROSETI). Most SETI programs search for radio signals. NIROSETI will look instead for fast-pulsed laser signals. Such signals, when they are no more than billionths of a second long, can outshine the Sun by many orders of magnitude, thereby enhancing detection. Elliot is investigating aspects of the program, such as a preferred wavelength at which to search, and is also helping to choose the detectors in preparation for assembly of the instrument in 2013.
Etsuko Mieda is a 3rd-year graduate student and received her undergraduate degree in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.
At the Dunlap, she is working with Prof. James Graham to build a wavefront sensor for analyzing atmosphere changes to incoming light. Dunlap Fellow Jerome Maire and Mieda have developed a seeing-monitoring instrument which measures atmospheric turbulence, and is destined for operation in the Arctic during the winter of 2012/2013. She is also working closely with Prof. Shelley Wright to dramatically improve the sensitivity of the OH-Suppressing Infrared Spectrograph, or OSIRIS, for operation with the Keck II telescope.
Max Millar-Blanchaer is a 2nd-year graduate student, and received his undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics from Queen’s University. He is interested in astronomical instrumentation, the search for exoplanets, galaxy evolution and supernovae.
Max is a member of the Dunlap Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) science team being led by Prof. James Graham. The GPI program is a next-generation, adaptive optics instrument destined for the Gemini South 8-metre telescope in northern Chile. The program will survey roughly a thousand nearby stars to search for Jupiter-size exoplanets when science operations commence in 2013.
Wayne is a 4th-year graduate student who received his undergraduate degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of British Columbia. His research interests include numerical simulation of cold dark matter, and instrumentation in the Canadian High Arctic.
For the latter, he is currently working with Dunlap Fellow Nicholas Law and Prof. Ray Carlberg of the DAA, and travelled to northern Ellesmere Island, at 80°N latitude, in February and October of 2012 to deploy two Arctic Wide-field Cameras (AWCams).
The cameras are designed to discover exoplanets by detecting transits of bright stars. Continuous winter darkness at the northerly site is ideal for detecting exoplanets with periods measured in weeks or months; planets with such orbital periods are more likely to be orbiting within a star’s habitable zone. Now that Wayne has successfully deployed the instruments, they will be collecting data continuously, until the return of the Sun in February 2013.
Stephen is 2nd-year graduate student who received his undergraduate degree in Mathematical Physics from Queen’s University. His research interests include core-collapse supernovae and shocks.
He is currently working with the Dunlap Institute’s Prof. Shelley Wright. in simulating high-redshift galaxy images viewed with integrated-field spectroscopy and adaptive optics. Stephen has constructed a simulator (GALINO) which generates images of high-redshift galaxies that you would expect when viewed with integrated-field spectroscopy and adaptive optics. With GALINO, it is possible to distinguish physical and instrumental mechanisms which affect our interpretations of these young galaxies. The simulations are particularly helpful in studying the bright, active galactic nuclei in these distant objects.