Kim Venn

Kim Venn
Professor, Director (ARC, NTCO)
Physics and Astronomy
Office: Elliott 111
Area of expertise

Local Group galaxies, stellar astronomy, spectroscopy, instrumentation

Current Projects available for Students

  • Spectroscopy of heavy elements in ultra faint dwarf galaxies.
  • Spectroscopy of metal poor stellar streams, and other novel stellar groups.
  • GHOST spectrograph commissioning and science verification.
  • Machine learning techniques for large and small spectroscopic data sets. 
  • Heavy elements in globular clusters with high frequencies of X-ray sources.


Kim Venn is a Professor in Physics & Astronomy at the University of Victoria.  She was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, receiving her BSc from the University of Toronto in Physics & Astronomy in 1987, and later her PhD at the University of Texas in Austin, working with Prof. David Lambert and Prof. Chris Sneden.  She was a postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the University of Munich Observatory, Germany, working with Prof. Director Rolf-Peter Kudritzki.  

She is a stellar spectroscopist, currently specializing in the analysis of metal poor stars in our Galaxy and the nearby dwarf satellites.  These observations are used to study the assembly history and evolution of galaxies, as well as the origins of the elements. She also works towards the next generation of spectroscopic instrumentation, including the Gemini Observatory GHOST spectrograph, and those designed for the next generation of Very Large Optical Telescopes. She is strongly interested in the development of fast and efficient approaches to data analysis using machine-learning algorithms to convert stellar spectra into reliable scientific parameters.

She has served on numerous science advisory committees (CFHT, Gemini, NASA, TMT). granting agency committees (NASA, NSF and NSERC), time allocation committees (HST, NOAO, CanTAC), other astronomy community committtees (CASCA, ACURA), and currently is one of the Canadian members on the Thirty Meter Telescope Board of governors.   

NTCO & Awards

Prof. Venn is the Director of the UVic Astronomy Research Centre, and Program Director for an NSERC CREATE training program on New Technologies for Canadian Observatories (NTCO).  She has won numerous awards for her research including the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (NSF 2000), a Clare Boothe Luce Professorship at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN (1995-2005), a Canadian Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics (Tier II, 2005-2015), and she shared in a UVic REACH award for Excellence in Research Partnerships (2018).

Current and Past Graduate Students

  • Fletcher Waller: MSc candidate (UVic)
  • John Pazder: PhD candidate (UVic)
  • Tarun Kumar: PhD candidate (UVic)
  • Spencer Bialek: PhD candidate (UVic, MSc 2019)
  • Farbod Jahandar: MSc 2018 (PhD candidate, UdM)
  • Dr Collin Kielty: PhD 2020 (Substance UVic)
  • Dr. Masen Lamb: PhD 2017 (PDF, Dunlap Institute, Toronto)
  • Dr. Charli Sakari: PhD 2014 (Faculty SFSU)
  • Dr. Ryan Leaman: PhD 2012 (PDF, Vienna)
  • Dr. Celia Blain: PhD 2012 (NRC-HAA)
  • Dr. Trystyn Berg: MSc 2014 (PDF, ESO, Chile)
  • Ashley Chutter: MSc 2009 (school teacher)

Current and Past Undergraduate Students

  • Teaghan O'Briain: BSc 2020 (PhD candidate, UVic)
  • Fletcher Waller: BSc 2020 (MSc candidate UVic)
  • Jennifer Glover: BSc candidate (UVic)
  • Nripesh Kumar: Mitacs Global Scholar 2019 (India, PhD candidate Columbia U)
  • Stephanie Monty: BSc 2018 (PhD candidate, ANU, Australia)
  • Nic Loewen: BSc 2017 (PhD candidate, UVic)
  • Farbod Jahandar: BSc 2016 (PhD candidate, UdM)
  • Ruth Digby: BSc 2016 (MSc 2019)
  • Deborah Lockhorst: BSc 2015 (PhD 2020, PDF NRC-Herzberg)
  • Kris Youakim: BSc 2015 (PhD 2020 IAP, PDF Stockholm)
  • Brendan Thorne: BSc 2015 
  • Mike Divell: BSc 2011 (school teacher, BC)
  • Dr. Anna Delayhe: BSc 2011 (PhD 2018 McGill)
  • Dr. Paul Wilson: BSc 2008 (PhD 2013 U.Exeter, UK)
  • Dr. Konstantin Fedotov: BSc 2008 (PhD 2016 WesternU)

Associated Student Members

  • Mojtaba Taheri Nieh: PhD candidate (UVic)
  • Dr. Clare Higgs: PhD 2020
  • Dr. Ondrea Clarkson: PhD 2020
  • Dr. Jared Keown: PhD 2019 (Ericsson, Sweden)
  • Dr. Zack Draper: PhD 2018 (Delta X Research)
  • Dr. Paolo Turri: PhD 2017 (PDF NRC-Herzberg)
  • Dr. Hannah Broekhoven-Fiene: PhD 2016
  • Dr. Rosemary Pike: PhD 2016 (PDF at ASAII, Taiwan)
  • Jon Geehan: MSc 2006 (school teacher, BC)