The fourth NTCO Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held online using the Zoom platform from October 13-16, 2020. Lasting a total of four days, it included seventeen poster sessions by students from ten different universities, two professional skills workshops, virtual tours by Diffraction Limited, HAA-Victoria, and the Gemini Observatory, and sixteen different talks by company representatives and research leaders about the advances and future projects for the Canadian astronomy community. Additionally, the event included a quiz trivia night, facilitated by IQ2000, and other informal networking opportunities that allowed the AGM attendees to connect.


The talks by research leaders, university members and company representatives are listed below in the order in which they were delivered at the AGM. 

Topic Spokesperson Affiliation
The NTCO program Kim Venn & Margaret Gwyn UVic
Industrial connections to astronomy and news from NRC Luc Simard HAA-Victoria
LRP2020 Pauline Barmby Western University
POEP Stan Metchev Western University
WFIRST and CASTOR Pat Côté HAA-Victoria
SPICA David Naylor University of Lethbridge
Blue Sky Spectroscopy Sudhakar Gunuganti Blue Sky Spectroscopy
NuVu Yoann Gosselin NuVu
Developing mm-wavelength instrumentation for studying cosmology Abigal Crites University of Toronto
SPIRou, NIRPS and HIRES René Doyon Université de Montréal
CHORD science and technology Matt Dobbs McGill University
Interacting with Indigenous communities at DRAO Kory Phillips HAA-Penticton
LSST Science Renée Hložek University of Toronto
Astronomical data science, transitioning from images to databases in the LSST era JJ Kavelaars HAA-Victoria
MILA Laurence Perreault Levasseur Université de Montréal
FLIR - deep learning for machine vision Stephen Se FLIR

Professional Skills Development Workshop

There were two Professional Skills Development Workshops offered at the NTCO 2020 AGM held on October 13th and October 14th. While attendance was mandatory for all graduate students, Undergrads and other AGM attendees were encouraged to join.

The first workshop, presented by Dr. Moussa Magassa, Dr. Janni Aragon, and Dr. Rob Hancock, focussed on Equity, Diversity and Allyship. Attendees: 

  • Reflected on the colonial context (historical and current) of Indigenous people in Canada
  • Developed their Indigenous cultural acumen through self-reflection on how they as individuals interact and interface with Indigenous cultures
  • Understood societal and systemic attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate racial discrimination and other intersecting social inequities such as classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and religious bigotry, among others
  • Explored the influence of race and culture on one’s own personal and professional life, attitude and behaviour
  • Recognized systemic racism and the role of technology in racial targeting and profiling

The second workshop, presented by Dr. Scot Kleinman, focussed on Leadership and Teamwork. The workshop covered topics such as

  • Understanding the difference between management and leadership
  • Learning the common thread among most leadership models and the best leaders
  • Leading by understanding yourself and others
  • Building teams for problem-solving
  • Debugging teams that get stuck

Presenter Bios

Dr. Moussa Magassa is the Human Rights Educator at the University of Victoria, where he focuses on enhancing understanding of, and commitment to, the university's human rights and equity goals, increasing diversity and creating a fair and inclusive work and study environment at UVic. Previously, Moussa worked as an integration program officer for immigrants and refugees in Vancouver.

Dr. Janni Aragon is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Victoria. She has taught courses on American Politics, Political Theory, Gender and Politics, Feminist Theory, Gender and International Relations, Model United Nations Simulation, Internship in Political Science, as well as numerous Women's Studies courses at the University of Victoria and San Diego State University.

Dr. Rob Hancock (Cree-Metis) is the Associate Director Academic in the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement at the University of Victoria, where he is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology. He has been involved in the development and delivery of the university’s Indigenous Cultural Acumen Training sessions for the past six years and has also designed and offered training sessions for other public sector groups and institutions.

Dr. Scot Kleinman is the Associate Director of Development at Gemini Observatory, having been involved with instrumentation development there since 2007. Prior to coming to Gemini, Scot served as the Instrument Division Chief for the Subaru telescope and previously lead nighttime operations for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, managed the Whole Earth Telescope as its Associate Director of Operations at Iowa State University, and spent some time on the daytime side of things at the Big Bear Solar Observatory. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin, where he built an instrument that now sits in a corner of his office, and completed an MBA from the University of Hawaii Shidler School of Business.  He is a board member of the Whole Earth Telescope and his research interests include white dwarf stars and science from large-scale surveys.  He has a 10-year-old daughter, a couple of German cars, some surfboards, a water ski, and a unicycle, each of which gets varied amounts of use.

Virtual Quiz Night

All NTCO students were invited to a Virtual Quiz Night on Tuesday, October 13th hosted by IQ2000, Vancouver's premier pub trivia and pub quiz host. Other AGM attendees were welcome to join. The quiz lasted about 1 hour and 45 minutes and consisted of four rounds with 10 questions each. Participants could be part of a team or play solo. 



Student Posters 

The posters presented by Graduate and Undergraduate NTCO students are listed below in the order in which they were presented at the AGM. They were an opportunity for students to share the work done over an internship or for another project. 

Poster Title Student University 
Fibre laser position metrology techniques for commercial spectrometers Adam Christiansen University of Lethbridge
Development of a cryogenic diffraction grating spectrometer Alicia Anderson University of Lethbridge
Exploring the history of the Virgo cluster of galaxies through multiwavelength photometry of globular clusters Robert Gleisinger UVic
Probing the inner structure of the high-accretion rate active galactic nucleus, Markarian 142 Viraja Khatu Western University
Characterization of image slicers Caleb Bayard Université de Laval
The high-resolution fibre-fed velocity spectrograph: VROOMM Farbod Jahandar  Université de Montréal
A Monte-Carlo approach for the ADP Maxime Royer Université de Laval
Deep NIR photometry of NGC 5904 with GeMS / GSAOI  Tarun Kumar UVic
Enabling precision astrometry science in TMT era Mojtaba Taheri UVic
Complex hydrocarbons in high mass star forming regions Courtney Bashnick Carleton University
HIRAX: Plans and prototypes Elizabeth Pieters McGill University
Young massive star clusters in the Antennae galaxy Hao He McMaster University
An ultra-energy-efficient 10GS/s analog-to-digital converter for radio astronomy Zahra Kabirkhoo University of Calgary
OPERA vs DRAGraces: Who would win? Shunyuan Mao UVic
Deep learning analyses of optical synthetic spectral libraries, with an application to the Gaia-ESO spectroscopic database Spencer Bialek UVic
Neural network optimization for machine vision edge devices with model distillation techniques Robert Bickley UVic
Optimizing neural networks using transfer learning Rehan Hafeez UBC



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