Dr. Robert Thacker, Director of the Science Outreach Centre and Professor in the Department of Astronomy & Physics at Saint Mary’s University, is the 2018 recipient of the Canadian Astronomical Society’s (CASCA) Qilak Award for Astronomy Communications, Public Education, and Outreach.
The Qilak Award honours Canadian residents who have made an outstanding contribution either to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy or informal astronomy education in Canada.
“Dr. Thacker is a passionate science communicator and a tireless advocate for astronomy research, and science in general,” says Dr. Steven Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “Saint Mary’s is very proud of his outreach efforts.”
In addition to maintaining an internationally recognized research portfolio, Dr. Thacker dedicates his time to science outreach. Since 2009, he has given 68 public lectures and has participated in over 350 media interviews and sciences programs, including a weekly segment on CBC Radio’s Mainstreet NS and 1310 News’s Ottawa Today. In recognition of his commitment to science outreach in Atlantic Canada, he was named Science Champion at the 13th Annual Discovery Award in 2015.
The Science Outreach Centre at Saint Mary’s University was created in 2017 to coordinate and expand the university’s science outreach efforts. As Director, Dr. Thacker chairs the Outreach/Community Engagement Advisory Council, oversees the Marine Mammal and Forensic Science youth summer camps, and supports recruitment initiatives and on-campus events like the Nova Scotia Youth Experience Showcase
“I simply love talking with people about science,” says Dr. Rob Thacker. “But I want to make clear science is vastly more than a body of facts, it's a process and a way of discovering. It tells us as much about ourselves as it does the world and universe around us.”