Juna Kollmeier becomes the first woman to lead the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics

Juna Kollmeier at a TED Talk. Credit: Bret Hartman, TED.

The Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) at the University of Toronto announced today that American astrophysicist Juna Kollmeier, a well known and highly regarded observationally oriented theorist, will become the first woman to lead the Institute.

SpaceQ spoke with Philippe Devos, Director, Media Relations at the University of Toronto who in a email characterized Kollmeier as “a superstar astrophysicist” and over the phone that this is a “brain gain” for Canada.

In a press release the University said “the appointment is the result of a comprehensive global recruitment process and underscores the university’s commitment to diversifying leadership across disciplines.” Kollmeier will begin work at CITA on Canada Day.

Kollmeier leaves her faculty position at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena. She is also the Director of the Sloan Digital Sky Surveys and the 2022 International Solvay Chair in Physics.

As an observationally oriented theorist Kollmeier “makes predictions that can be compared to current and future observations.” Here research has focused “on how structures grow and evolve in the universe, concentrating on supermassive black holes, the Milky Way and the intergalactic medium.”

Melanie Woodin, dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science said “I am thrilled to welcome Juna Kollmeier to the University of Toronto to take on this important leadership role. This appointment is truly an outstanding ‘brain gain’ for Canada. An impressive scholar, passionate scientist and mentor, she is also brilliant at engaging the public in understanding our universe. She will undoubtedly advance CITA’s remarkable research and novel discoveries in astrophysics and cosmology to new frontiers.”

Kollmeier said “CITA is Canada’s hub for research and discovery in theoretical astrophysics. It’s been a tremendous global force, has contributed to cosmology, to our understanding of black-hole growth and evolution, to star formation and to high-energy astrophysics. I think U of T shines brightly as a place where excellence thrives and grows. This is an incredible opportunity to lead an incredible organization.”

“We are arriving at an incredibly exciting point in the overall history of astrophysics, where we have these rich datasets. And they allow us to explore a variety of deep questions, all open questions that are on the verge of breaking apart. Joining this community will take my own research to the next level, and that’s tremendously exciting.”

Outgoing CITA director Norman Murray said “She is an incredible scientist, mentor and collaborator. I’m excited that she will help advance our mission to expand Canada’s capacity in theoretical astrophysics and grow our national and international networks, as our post-doctoral fellows go on to teach and innovate at many other leading universities.”

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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