News Archives for 2009-10

April, 2010

Prof. Shantanu Basu

Prof. Shantanu Basu has accepted a 5 year term as the Chair The Department of Physics and Astronomy starting July 1, 2010.

April, 2010

National Geographic TV was here to complete filming of research on the Grimsby Meteorite.

This will air later in 2010 as part of the Naked Science series.

April, 2010

Steve Komes

Celebration of the retirement of staff member Steve Komes. More photos.

March, 2010

Martin Houde

Professor Martin Houde has received renewed funding as Canada Research Chair in Star Formation. Western News.

February, 2010

Dr. Sarah Gallagher Colliding galaxies in group Hickson 31

Photo of Sarah Gallagher by Western News

How our present day galaxies formed is an ancient secret buried billions of years in the universe's past during the hayday of galactic formation. However, Dr. Sarah Gallagher and collaborators are studying a group of 10 billion year old galaxies which appear to be undergoing recent, violent interactions whose final outcome should be the formation of a new elliptical galaxy. Such a glimpse into the secret of galactic evolution is extremely fortuitous.

This research will be published in February's The Astronomical Journal.

See the Hubble Space Telescope Institute press release.

See The Western News press release.

February, 2010

Prof. Emeritus Patrick Whippey Prof. Emeritus Patrick Whippey Prof. Emeritus Patrick Whippey Prof. Emeritus Patrick Whippey

Professor Emeritus Dr. Patrick Whippey has been awarded a Distinguished Service Citiation from The American Association of Physics Teachers - the first Canadian so honoured.

The award will be presented at the APS/AAPT meeting in Washington, D.C. next week.

The citation reads:

"Patrick Whippey, The University of Western Ontario physics professor emeritus, is a very knowledgeable and dedicated physics teacher who is a role model to both educators and students. A willing and effective mentor to new and experienced teachers, he is well-respected among all of the OAPT Section members and hundreds of physics teachers and students across the province. Whippey's service to AAPT, the physics profession, and the physics students and teachers of the Ontario section of the AAPT has spanned over 40 years. He has made significant contributions to the Ontario section as a member of the Executive Board, OAPT section representative, and web master. He has made contributions to numerous activities for physics teachers such as a physics contest; physics photo contest; science shows and presentations for elementary, middle school, and high school students; science olympics; and science fairs. He is an OAPT member at large, organizer of the section and national conferences (one of them was the Canadian Association of Physicists / AAPT joint conference), and contributor to the Science Teachers Association of Ontario events."

February, 2010

Dr. Ravi Menon at WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase Dr. Giovanni Fanchini (right) and graduate student Shafiq Ahmed at WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase Dr. Ram Valluri at WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase Dr. Peter Brown at WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase

Photos by Mitch Zimmer, Faculty of Science

Physics and Astronomy was well represented at the WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase, which took place on Friday, February 5, 2010, at the London Convention Centre.

The showcase provides a forum in which Western's Science, Engineering, and Medical research community can show their research to the London and area business community. It is a prime opportunity for networking between business and academia.

Physics and Astronomy provided two keynote speakers for the event, as well as several poster presentations.
Dr. Peter Brown spoke on "The Danger to Telecommunications Satellites from Meteoroids", while adjunct professor Dr. Ravi Menon of Robarts Research gave a presentation entitled "Radio Frequency Coils for Ultra-high Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging".

December, 2009

Giovanni Fanchini keynote address at 5th International Conference of the African MRS in Abuja, Nigeria Giovanni Fanchini keynote address at 5th International Conference of the African MRS in Abuja, Nigeria Giovanni Fanchini keynote address at 5th International Conference of the African MRS in Abuja, Nigeria

[Click on image to enlarge]

The Africa Materials Research Society (A-MRS), is the African branch of MRS, set-up for the development and advancement of Material Engineering in Africa. It provides an avenue for information sharing on new and existing materials and its technologies through idea exchange, conferences and technical publications. The A-MRS conferences accomplish the additional goal to foster the interaction between researchers in African countries and other groups active in other parts of the world.

Dr. Fanchini was invited to give a keynote address about his work on "Transparent and conducting carbon-based thin films for energy applications" at the 5th A-MRS edition of the meeting, held in Abuja, Nigeria, December 14-18th.

November, 2009

Jayanne English

Dr. Jayanne English IYA2009 public lecture "From Cosmos to Canvas: Tensions between Art and Science in Astronomy Images."

Thursday, November 26, 2009
3:30 p.m.
The Physics and Astronomy Building, Room 137
The University of Western Ontario

November, 2009

Luc Simard

Dr. Luc Simard IYA2009 public lecture "Galaxies: Like Grains of Sand."

Friday, November 20, 2009
7:30 p.m.
Summerville House, Room 3345
The University of Western Ontario

October, 2009

art of the fragment recovery crew from Western One of the recovered fragments of the Grimsby meteorite

Images of one of the recovered Grimsby meteorite fragments, as well as the recovery team. [Click on image to enlarge].

October, 2009

Part of Western's meteorite search crew Dr. Alan R. Hildebrand from The University of Calgary Dr. Phil McCausland from The University of Western Ontario

Fragments of the Grimsby meteorite have been recovered. Crews from both The University of Western Ontario, and The University of Calgary are still in the field hunting for more pieces. [Click on images above to enlarge].

This is the first meteorite in Ontario for which fragments have been found for a known fireball event. The precisely observed trajectory and calculated orbit for this fireball will allow university researchers to gain much greater insights into the formation of our solar system.

Western News article on recovered fragments.


October, 2009

A spectacular fireball disintegrated over Hamilton, Ontario, at about 9pm local time on Friday, September 25, 2009, with there being potential fragments landing on the escarpment near Grimsby.

October, 2009

Dr Giovanni Fanchini

Dr. Giovanni Fanchini explores miniaturization of low-cost electronics.




October, 2009

Shantanu Basu

Dr. Shantanu Basu has been visiting at Cambridge University in the UK for August and September.

He recounts his experiences.



October, 2009

Herschel Telescope Martin Houde

First light images have now been taken with all instruments (PACS, SPIRE, HIFI) aboard the Herschel Space Telescope.

Professor Martin Houde is on the Science Team for HIFI - Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared, one of the instruments on Herschel which Martin will be using to map star forming regions within our galaxy.

Dr. Carolyn McCoey, a research scientist at Western as well as Waterloo, is one of the Canadian Instrument Support Specialists for HIFI.

September, 2009

Dr. Jaymie Matthews

Western grad Dr. Jaymie Matthews, now a professor of astronomy at UBC, plays the 'Rocket Scientist' in a new Fountain Tire advertisement. These can be seen on CBC-West television during Hockey Night in Canada.

Jaymie became A Companion of the Order of Canada in 2007. He is the principal investigator of Canada's first astronomical space telescope named 'M.O.S.T.'.

September, 2009

Prof. Pauline Barmby Andromeda galaxy (Hubble S.T.)

Professor Pauline Barmby along with other astronomers involved in "The Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey (PAndAS)" have uncovered important clues as to the evolution and makeup of the well-known nearby Andromeda galaxy (shown at right).

New detailed mapping, published in Nature, indicates that the Andromeda galaxy may have swallowed smaller dwarf galaxies as it evolved.

See the BBC science news coverage.

September, 2009

Conville visit Conville visit Conville visit Conville visit

Click image to enlarge. left-John Conville, 2nd from left - John at observatory, 3rd from left - Michel Debruyne, far right - Elginfield Observatory. (photography: Michel Debruyne)

Former undergraduate astronomy student John Conville paid a visit to his alma matter and had a reunion with retired long-time staff member Graydon Symonds, as well as Michel Debruyne and Henry Leparskas.

John was a brilliant computer programmer and electronics designer who worked with Graydon and Michel in designing and implementing modern computer instrumentation for the new breed of astronomical instruments which were being developed for the cassegrain focus at Elginfield Observatory. Graydon, who was technical supervisor, along with Michel and Henry, continued development of instrumentation such as the two-star photometer, 4096 reticon, and 200 x 4096 ccd spectrograph through the 1980s and early 1990s.

After he graduated, John started a long career in Silicon Valley, working in high level technical management at 3-Com, Lucent Technoligies, BNR, and for a long time at Apple Corporation. John played a role in having Apple put ethernet connections on their early Macintosh motherboards. Today he is a private consultant in the computer and technology industry.

August, 2009

Prof. Giovanni Fanchini

We proudly announce that Dr. Giovanni Fanchini, most recently at Rutgers University, is our newest Canada Research Chair in the field of Carbon-based Nanomaterials.

Prof. Fanchini experiments on the development of carbon-based nano-electronic and nano-optical devices.

His office will be located in PAB 112.


August, 2009

Douglas Kurtze

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Douglas Kurtze, of Saint Josephs University, in Philadelphia PA, is visiting with us for the coming year. He will be collaborating with Dr. John de Bruyn.

Dr. Kurtze has research interests in the fields of theoretical nonlinear dynamics and pattern formation and will be occupying Rm 319.


August, 2009

Martin Zinke-Allmang

Prof. Martin Zinke-Allmang's undergraduate medical physics textbook "Physics for the Life Sciences" has received another positive review, this time from the journal Medical Physics.

August, 2009

Meghan McGill wins Wehlau Scholarship

(Click image to enlarge)

[photo: Michel Debruyne]

PhD candidate Meghan McGill (left), shown with Professor Emerita Amelia Wehlau, is the 2009 recipient of the William H. Wehlau Scholarship in Astronomy.

Meghan works with supervisors Professors Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut.

Meghan studies very active stars by developing computer models of the structure and physical properties of the extended disks which surround these stars.

August, 2009

Betelgeuse Jan Cami

Professor Jan Cami and collaborators have made the highest resolution images to date of the famous supergiant Betelgeuse, the red gem-like star in the well known northern winter constellation of Orion, and home to Zaphod Beeblebrox and Ford Prefect in "The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

Read about it in the Western News.

See the discussion at Nature magazine's "The Great Beyond" blog.

Read about it in the CBC technology news.

July, 2009

Prof. Shantanu Basu

Astronomer Shantanu Basu is using stereoscopic projection as an exciting new computing tool.




June, 2009

Prof. John D. Landstreet

Professor emeritus John Landstreet writes to us from Ireland.

"I was invited to visit Armagh Observatory in Armagh, Northern Ireland, as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor.

I am visiting Armagh Observatory between January and September 2009. As a major part of my visit I presented a (post)graduate course of eight lectures on "Stellar magnetism. The lectures were given during the winter at both Armagh Observatory and at nearby Queen's University Belfast, with which Armagh Observatory is loosely affiliated. The lectures and considerable supporting material are available on the web at

More recently, I have been invited to give seminars at the University of Hertfordshire (England), the University of St Andrews (Scotland), and the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands). All of these lectures have also (surprise) been on the topic of "Stellar magnetism".

While I am in Armagh I have also been collaborating pretty intensely with staff astronomer Dr Stefano Bagnulo, with whom I have done a lot of work in recent years, and I finally finished off a paper that has as co-authors no less than five of my former UWO summer undergraduate assistants (Alyson Ford, Tim Officer, Jessie Silaj, Simon Strasser, and Anna Townshend).

In addition to my activites in the UK, I am a member of the Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) of the European Southern Observatory, and participated in the OPC meeting in Garching, Germany, in May. I am also currently President of Commission 36 (Theory of Stellar Atmospheres) of the International Astronomical Union, and have been active in preparing for the forthcoming IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro."

June, 2009

new MSA building new MSA building new MSA building new MSA building new MSA building new MSA building

Click image to enlarge (all photos taken by Michael Debruyne).

Photos from the official grand opening of the new Materials Science Addition, on Friday, June 19, 2009.

June, 2009

Graduate student Ron Dauphinee's poster paper which was entitled "A Dynamic Light Scattering Study of Hydroxyapatite Crystal Growth in the Presence of Osteopontin and Related Peptides" received honourable mention at the CAP Congress held in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Ron does his research with supervisor Prof. John R. deBruyn.

June, 2009

Graduate students Ildiko Beres and Emily McCullough were winners of the Best Student Paper awards at the recent international MST12 conference held in London.

Ildiko's paper was titled "Active and Passive Observations of Lightning", and was authored by Ildiko Beres, Wayne K. Hocking, Ron Thomas.

Emily's paper was titled "Lidar Measurements of Gravity Waves in the Arctic Middle Atmosphere", and was authored by Emily McCullough, R.J. Sica, K.B. Strawbridge, J.R. Drummond.

June, 2009

Award winners 2009 Award winners 2009 Award winners 2009 Award winners 2009 Award winners 2009

Click image to enlarge (all photos are courtesy Mitch Zimmer, Faculty of Science).

Three students were major award winners this spring.

In the left photo, the mother of Owen Blackwell is shown receiving Owen's Maude Holt Kingston Gold Medal in Astronomy from Prof. Jeff Hutter.

In the second photo from the left, Adrienne Campbell is shown with Dr. Keith Griffiths after being presented with the J. B. Bancroft Science Medal & Prize, awarded to a science student graduating with the highest standing in an Honors Specialization and a minimum 80%.

In the centre photo, Adrienne Campbell is shown with Dr. Jerry Battista after receiving The Strik Couprie Inch Cancer Research Course Prize, awarded annually to the student receiving the highest mark in Medical Biophysics 467a/b: Radiobiology and Radionuclides. This award was established through the generosity of the J.P. Bickell Foundation.

In the photo second from the right, Adrienne is shown with the Reverand Paul Ross, grandson of the late Dr. Raymond Compton Dearle. Adrienne received The Raymond Compton Dearle Gold Medal, awarded to a student graduating in the Honors Physics program.

In the photo on the right, Marcus Couch is shown receiving the Don R. Hay Prize from Dr. Hay's daughter Mrs. Dianne Coffin. This award is presented to the student for the fourth year Honors Research Project with a minimum mark of 80%.

In addition, both Marcus Couch and Adrienne Campbell were recipients of The Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship and NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship for a Masters Degree. Adrienne will be attending The University College in London, England, while Marcus will continue research here at Western.

June, 2009

Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009 Graduating Class 2009

Click image to enlarge

The graduating class of June, 2009.

June, 2009

NSERC summer students 2009

Click image to enlarge

NSERC summer students.

On Steps (left to right): Adrienne Campbell, Allison Hill, Mark Gooyers, Annemarie Pickersgill, Marcus Couch, Neil Bhatt.
Front Row (left to right): Jesse Tanguay, Nathan Armstrong, Sam Chippin, Horace Shiu, Justin Bondy.

Not in photo: Matthew Quinn, Arvand Barghi, Ramen Nissan.

June, 2009

Jim Cole CarolAnne Black Anne Brooks Harry Chen

Click image to enlarge

Four of our staff members left the Department this month. We wish them all well in their future endeavors.

From left to right, Jim Cole, CarolAnne Black, Anne Brooks, and Harry Chen.

June, 2009

Eric Barbagiovanni Joel Cox Ron Dauphinee

Click image to enlarge

Eric Barbagiovanni (on the right of the left image ) is the Faculty of Science Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence winner.

Joel Cox (on the right of the centre image) is the Teaching Assistant Demonstrators Award of Excellence winner.

Ron Dauphinee (on the right of the right image) is winner of the Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence for tutors.

Presenters were graduate chair Prof. Aaron Sigut (two left images), and undergraduate chair Prof. Jeff Hutter (right image).

May, 2009

Martin Zinke-Allmang Martin Zinke-Allmang

Prof. Martin Zinke-Allmang's newly revised undergraduate physics textbook "Physics for the Life Sciences" has recently received a very positive review by The Canadian Association of Physicists.

May, 2009

Herschel Telescope Martin Houde

The Herschel and Planck space telescopes were successfully launched by the European Space Agency on Thursday, May 14, 2009.

Professor Martin Houde is on the Science Team for HIFI - Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared, one of the instruments on Herschel which Martin will be using to map star forming regions within our galaxy.

Dr. Carolyn McCoey, a research scientist at Western as well as Waterloo, is one of the Canadian Instrument Support Specialists for HIFI.

View a brief video announcement of the astronomy that will be done with HIFI.

April, 2009

A large fireball on the evening of March 15, 2009 (March 16 Univeral Time) may have left ground fragments north-east of Newmarket, Ontario. It was detected by several all-sky cameras which are operated by the Meteor Physics Group here at Western.

April, 2009

Adrienne CampbellMarcus CouchAdrienne Campbell Elizabeth Silber Wolf Dapp

Physics and Astronomy is proud to announce five (5) winners of the prestigious NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Graduates Marcus Couch and Adrienne Campbell received the award for new Masters students. Both Marcus and Adrienne will be pursuing research in Medical Physics.

Doctoral winners of the award are Wolf Dapp, Robbie Halonen, and Elizabeth Silber. Two study astrophysics and one meteor physics.

Wolf Dapp is supervised by Prof. Shantanu Basu, and his doctoral research involves modelling star formation from its early phase and the interplay of gravity, turbulence and magnetic fields, to its later stages of core collapse, disk formation and accretion.

Robbie Halonen is supervised by Prof. Carol Jones.
Robbie's doctoral research consists of analyzing and comparing computational codes that produce theoretical models of the circumstellar disks surrounding Be stars.

Elizabeth Silber is a Meteor Physics student, and she is supervised by Prof. Peter Brown.
Elibabeth's research involves computer analysis of bolide infrasound observations, and the computer modeling of meteor cylindrical line source blasts, which are then compared to observations.