Faculty of Science

Saint Mary's researcher part of group looking to get a glimpse of the hot universe

 Dr. Luigi Gallo, member of the XRISM science team and professor of astronomy and physics at Saint Mary's University. (Credit: Ryan Taplin)

Dr. Luigi Gallo, member of the XRISM science team and professor of astronomy and physics at Saint Mary's University. (Credit: Ryan Taplin)

Many people think of space as a cold and empty place, but some structures in the universe are incredibly hot. In fact, at the centre of most galaxies lie supermassive black holes, whose surrounding regions can reach millions of degrees.

X-rays can be described as a hot, high-energy form of light that the human eye cannot see. Many kinds of astronomical objects, like massive stars, black holes, and clusters of galaxies, emit X-rays. Because Earth's atmosphere shields us from this cosmic radiation, astronomers must send observatories into space to study these exotic objects.

Led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) is a new space observatory that will take a closer look at the hot, often violent ways that galaxies form and stars burn out.

The XRISM observatory will feature two scientific instruments, Xtend and Resolve, which must be tested and calibrated before installation and launch. NASA has chosen to perform these tests at the Canadian Light Source, an synchrotron facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, that is capable of generating X-rays.

In addition to these efforts, the Canadian Space Agency is also supporting the participation of Canadian scientists:

  • Dr. Luigi Gallo, of Saint Mary's University, on the XRISM science team

  • Dr. Brian McNamara, of the University of Waterloo, on the Resolve instrument team

Members of Canada's astronomy community will be able to compete for guest observer time, an exciting opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research into cosmic sources of X-rays and to shed light on the structure of our universe.

More information can be found be found here at the Canadian Space Agency website.

SMU faculty participate as scientific experts at G7 Oceans Inspiration Expo

 Dr. Danika van Proosdij speaks at the G7 Oceans Summit

Dr. Danika van Proosdij speaks at the G7 Oceans Summit

Three Saint Mary’s University faculty members were invited to participate as experts at the G7 Oceans Summit at the Halifax Convention Centre, in parallel with the G7 Joint Ministerial Session on Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Communities.

The summit, and the G7 meeting, generally focused on oceans – with the three themes of the gathering being: plastic reduction, sustainable fishing, and coastal resilience. Professors Dr. Danika van Proosdij, Dr. Cathy Conrad and Dr. Tony Charles represented the university, working with 200 other global experts to develop the framing and guiding document on Oceans for the G7 ministers meeting that followed.

This collaboration was thanks to an ongoing partnership between the Canadian Government’s Environment and Climate Change department (ECCC) and the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN) led by Dr. Tony Charles and based at Saint Mary’s University.

Dr. van Proosdij was a panellist for the “Resilient Coasts and Communities” event, speaking about her Natural Infrastructure to adapt to climate change impacts. She has worked in Canada, and on the Indian Ocean and Caribbean, primarily on vulnerability assessment and recommendations of implementation.

She was also a judge at the Clean Coastal Challenge, where youth pitched and designed sustainable coastal communities. The communities had to be sustainable, circular economy, renewable energy and healthy lifestyles.

Saint Mary’s was the only university with a booth at the Oceans Inspiration Expo, a public G7 event with presentations by Sylvia Earle and Alexandra Cousteau. The booth featured the work of the CCRN, on local communities around the world that are conserving their environment and sustaining their local economy, as well as several other university ocean and coastal initiatives.

Dr. David Bourgeois wins Father William A. Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching

 Dr. David Bourgeois receives the Father William A. Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching from Mary-Evelyn Ternan (BA’69, BEd’70, MEd’88), Past President of the Saint Mary's Alumni Association

Dr. David Bourgeois receives the Father William A. Stewart Medal for Excellence in Teaching from Mary-Evelyn Ternan (BA’69, BEd’70, MEd’88), Past President of the Saint Mary's Alumni Association

Dr. David Bourgeois, Associate Professor of Psychology, is known for offering students interactive, hands-on learning experiences. He respects diverse learning needs and places great importance on cross-cultural education.

Aside from teaching in the classroom, Dr. Bourgeois shares talks and lectures with the broader community, including Nova Scotia school teachers, prospective Saint Mary’s students and their parents, and visiting academics from Beijing Normal University. He also created the Documentaries with Dave series, which is open to the public and covers social justice issues and politics. Dr. Bourgeois’ interest in Peace and Conflict Studies is demonstrated in his role as a faculty mentor in the Northern Ireland Conflict Resolution Program (NICRP); this initiative has existed at Saint Mary’s since 2004 and has included more than 180 students in its mission of fostering peace education locally and abroad. Dr. Bourgeois also contributed significantly to the development of the University’s new Peace and Conflict Studies minor, and he has been a member of the Board of Directors for Peaceful Schools International, a partner organization of the NICRP, for over a decade.

Committed to university affairs, Dr. Bourgeois serves on a number of Saint Mary’s committees, including the Faculty of Science Curriculum Committee, the Academic Discipline Committee, the Social Benefits Committee of the Faculty Union, and the Conflict Resolution Advisory Committee.

The Medal for Excellence in Teaching is named for the late Father William A. Stewart, a philosophy professor and administrator at Saint Mary’s from 1950-1982. Father Stewart was known for his inclusivity, approachability, innovative teaching, and service to the University.

Premier Stephen McNeil on campus to congratulate Enactus team on the success of the Square Roots food token program3

Premier Stephen McNeil came to Saint Mary’s recently to congratulate Enactus team members on the success of the Square Roots food token program, as they prepare for a national competition. Enactus is a global student organization focused on addressing social issues through entrepreneurship. A total of 38 students are heading to Toronto next week to compete in the Enactus Canada National Exposition.

The Province of Nova Scotia recently supported Saint Mary’s work in entrepreneurship when it announced an $11 million investment for the creation of the Entrepreneurship, Discovery and Innovation (EDI) Hub on campus.

Saint Mary’s celebrates new and existing Canada Research Chairs

Members of the Saint Mary’s University community formally welcomed the institution’s newest Canada Research Chairs (CRC), Drs. Ivana Damjanov and Mohammad Rahaman, and celebrated existing CRCs at a reception held today.

Created in 2000, the CRC Program invests $265 million per year across Canada to attract and retain the world’s best researchers in the fields of engineering, the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

“Whether investigating the consequences of low-wage practices on the worldwide economy or using the world’s most advanced telescopes to delve into details of galaxy formation and evolution, Saint Mary’s CRCs are making an impact on our world and on society’s foundational knowledge,” says Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President of Academic and Research at Saint Mary’s University.

With the addition of Dr. Ivana Damjanov, CRC in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, CRC in International Finance and Competitiveness, Saint Mary’s University is proud to host nine more Canada Research Chairs.


The following is a list of Saint Mary's University's Canada Research Chairs:
 

•    Dr. Todd Ventura, CRC in Petroleum Systems, Geochemistry, and Reservoir Characterization

•    Dr. Christa Brosseau, CRC in Sustainable Chemistry and Materials

•    Dr. Marcin Sawicki, CRC in Astronomy

•    Dr. Gavin Fridell, CRC in International Development Studies

•    Dr. Karly Kehoe, CRC in Atlantic Canada Communities

•    Dr. Kevin Kelloway, CRC in Occupational Health Psychology

•    Dr. Najah Attig, CRC in Finance

•    Dr. Ivana Damjanov, CRC in Astronomy & Astrophysics

•    Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, CRC in International Finance and Competitiveness


Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in Astronomy & Astrophysics

 Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in   Astronomy & Astrophysics and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Ivana Damjanov, Canada Research Chair in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Damjanov’s research involves using images and spectroscopic signatures of massive galaxies to follow the evolution of their stellar and dark matter content over 7 billion years of cosmic time. As Canada Research Chair in Astronomy and Astrophysics, she seeks to expand the spectroscopic and imaging surveys of galaxies to cover large areas of the sky and provide the highest-quality data. By carefully analyzing these information-rich datasets Dr. Damjanov and her team hope to reveal how the biggest building blocks of the universe form and evolve.

Dr. Damjanov is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Physics.


Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness

 Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice-President, Academic and Research

Dr. Rahaman’s research is in the area of international finance, international competitiveness, corporate finance, and cross-country financial development. As Canada Research Chair in International Finance and Competitiveness, Dr. Rahaman is investigating how manufacturing and job losses induced by competition from low-wage countries are influencing the way capital is accessed in high-wage countries. His work will contribute to our understanding of how small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada can overcome their financing constraints and contribute to employment growth in our increasingly globalized and competitive world economy.

Dr. Rahaman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Finance, Information Systems, and Management Science.