UW launches Centre for Astrophysics

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The Waterloo Centre for Astrophysics (WCA) was launched on Oct. 4 with a vision for more innovative research in astrophysics and related fields.

During the launch, there were discussions for the development of various sub-fields of astrophysics.

The talks ranged from investigation of extra-solar asteroids and comets, to observations aiming to understand the whole universe. There was also a public lecture by Harvard Astrophysicist Christine Forman about dark matter, dark energy, and the invisible universe.

WCA is an important addition to UW’s department of Physics. It will host visitors and meetings and hire young researchers in a research focused atmosphere.

The WCA will stimulate fundamental research in Astrophysics and Cosmology, catalyse and foster national and international collaborations.

To do this, the WCA will partner with regional and international centres of excellence in astrophysics in order to promote synergies and further experiments where the WCA members have interests.

“We will facilitate dissemination of astrophysical sciences by hosting topical conferences and focused workshops, as well as by developing and maintaining an active visitor program. The WCA will engage the broader academic community at UW, as well as the general public, via physical and virtual platforms, in order to promote the significance of fundamental research and share the excitement of the science done by WCA members. In particular, it will strive to engage and recruit women, underrepresented minorities, and Indigenous communities in its scientific and outreach activities,” Will Percival, Director of WCA, said.

Using astronomical observations and theoretical reasoning the WCA will help the careers of aspiring young researchers, helping them to unlock the mysteries of the universe.  It will have an annual budget of approximately $500,000, which comes from the university and from a research stipend Will Percival will receive as Astrophysics Chair.

The WCA will add to the graduate and postdoctoral training and mentorship undertaken at the University of Waterloo, leading to the successful entry of the trained highly qualified personnel into a career in astrophysics, cosmology and industry.

“As a young and dynamic institute we can support and exploit innovative and ground-breaking methods techniques and data. Astrophysics is, in many ways, the archetypal Big Data science. We have been manipulating and mining large data sets for many decades, and have developed many techniques for doing this. By tapping into the culture of innovation at the University of Waterloo, we can lead the world in the development and application of new techniques,” Percival said.