Astro at home: Guest Speakers

Meet the experts who are sharing their knowledge, making this program possible!

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Frédérique baron

Frédérique is an astrophysicist who is passionate about the search for planets around stars other than the Sun. She has a PhD from the Université de Montréal and now works at the Institute for

Research on Exoplanets at the Université de Montréal. She is curious and she loves to talk about astronomy in all its forms! She also loves to knit and bake.

Dr. Kelly Lepo is an astronomer, science communicator, Trekkie, and considers herself an adult Lisa Simpson. She has a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Toronto,

Kelly Lepo

where she studied stars that may one day blow up as supernovas. She helped build the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, became an expert on the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse, and taught physics at a small liberal arts college in the States. She now works at McGill University in Montreal. You can follow her on Twitter @KellyLepo or Instagram @KellyMLepo.

Parshati Patel

Parshati Patel is an astrophysicist, science communicator, educator and researcher based in London, Ontario, Canada. Parshati has a PhD in Astronomy/Planetary Science and Exploration from

Western  University. She was inspired to study astronomy after a visit to a planetarium which was followed by reading 100s of astronomy books and a gift of a telescope. Originally from Ahmedabad, India, Parshati moved to Canada to pursue astronomy. She is an Educational Outreach and Communications Specialist at the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration and an Adjunct Research Professor in Faculty of Education at Western University. In her free time, Parshati likes to dabble into photography (mainly night sky!), and also enjoys cooking, skating and painting. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Adaeze Ibik

My name is Adaeze Ibik, a graduate student of the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of

Toronto, Canada.I am passionate about astronomy education and research especially in Africa. I am working on very bright explosions in the universe called supernovae. I am also interested in neutron stars, fast radio bursts and radio astronomy. Visit my website!

Christa Van Laerhoven

Christa Van Laerhoven grew up in a small farming community in BC. She then went to university at The University of British Columbia and The University of Arizona.

Her scientific area of study is what she likes to call 'orbital shenanigans', that is, she thinks about how orbits of planets, moons, and asteroids change over time. She concentrates specifically on the Trans-Neptunian Belt (also known as the Kuiper Belt) and planets that orbit stars other than our Sun. She enjoys hiking with her husband and her dog, boating on the Yukon River, doing puzzles, playing board games, and reading fantasy novels. Follow me on Twitter! @K04PB2B

Emily Deibert

Emily is a PhD student at the University of Toronto studying the atmospheres of other worlds in our Galaxy, or “exoplanets”. For her undergraduate

degree from U of T, Emily studied astronomy, English, and math. She likes writing about and sharing astronomy with the public, and in her spare time also likes to read, watch movies, and go biking around Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter @emilydeibert.

Ilana MacDonald

Dr. Ilana MacDonald grew up in a small town in rural Quebec where she was inspired by the clear night skies and her father’s “midlife crisis telescope” to study

Astronomy. She completed her Bachelors of Science in Physics at Bishop’s University, and her Doctorate in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, studying under Prof. Harald Pfeiffer. Her doctoral research topic was to test the accuracy of models of ripples in spacetime, that is, gravitational waves, from binary black holes for detectors such as LIGO. Since graduating with her PhD in 2013, Dr. MacDonald has decided to pursue a career in STEM outreach and education, and has tried everything from working in a Math tutoring centre to being a science consultant for a documentary. She currently works in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics managing some of the largest courses at the University of Toronto, as well as creating and presenting planetarium shows. In her free time, Dr. MacDonald enjoys reading science fiction, knitting, playing the ukulele, and riding around Toronto on her bicycle. I’m @astroilana on Twitter and @drilanamac on Instagram (though I’ve only been posting food pictures lately)

Mary Beth Laychak


Mary Beth is the Director of Strategic Communications at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the Big Island of Hawaii.  She also runs

the Maunakea Scholars program, an innovative astronomy outreach program for Hawaii public high school students.  Mary Beth has an undergraduate degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State University and a masters degree in educational technology from San Diego State.  Her passions include astronomy, sharing astronomy with the public, astronomy based crafts, and running. She lives in Waimea, Hawaii with her husband and cat.

Nathalie Ouellete

Hi, I'm Nathalie Ouellette! I'm an astrophysicist and a science communicator working at the University of Montreal. I'm the Coordinator of the

Institute for Research on Exoplanets and am the Canadian Outreach Scientist for a super exciting mission called the James Webb Space Telescope led by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency. I've always loved nature and science and have known I've wanted to study the Universe since I was about 5 years old. After getting a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, I decided I also wanted to share my passion for astronomy through science communication. My research is on the formation and evolution of galaxies. In my spare time, I love rock climbing, walking through nature (especially if I can spot some animals!), painting and playing the piano. Follow me on Twitter!

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton is an astronomy resident at the Canada-France Observatory. Hawaii. The first aboriginal woman from

Quebec to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics, she graduated from Laval University by studying stellar formation regions in spiral galaxies using a spectro-imager. She thus demonstrated the efficiency of the SpIOMM and SITELLE imaging spectrometers for the detailed study of emission lines in spiral galaxies. Her expertise now allows her to train other researchers in the use of these tools. Laurie is also a big fan of moose hunting and half-marathons.  

Charles J. Woodford

Charles is finishing his PhD in physics at the University of Toronto. He works on computer simulations of binary black holes and how to fine-tune simulation output for use in

detecting these exotic systems. Charles has a passion for teaching, and works part time as a junior and high school science teacher. He loves sports that feed his need for speed (like cycling and snowboarding) and playing sci-fi or fantasy board and role playing games like DnD. Charles was inspired to become an astrophysicist by the clear night skies he grew up with in small-town Newfoundland.

Jesse Rogerson

Jesse is an astrophysicist and science communicator. He works as the Science Advisor at the Canada Aviation and Space

Museum in Ottawa, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter or on Instagram

Amanda's spark for science ignited at an early age exploring nature with her family and then grew into a flame for space as she followed Canada's journey

skyward. She teaches Junior High Science, Math, Coding, and STEAM classes in both English and French in Beaumont, Alberta. She thrives through collaboration and sharing her passions with other educators, students, and her community. She believes in creating authentic cross-curricular learning opportunities for her students to apply to real world problems, fostering a generation of young people armed to build a better future and working together towards putting a maple leaf on the Moon and Mars! Twitter and TikTok: @MmeAmandaGreen

Amanda Green

Jayanne English

Prof. Jayanne English is an astronomer at the University of Manitoba.  She uses telescopes in space and radio telescopes on the ground

to help trace elusive Dark Matter and to study how galaxies’ move, gravitationally pull on each other and form peculiar shapes. Additionally she creates striking astronomy images seen in popular magazines, books and websites. Prof. English co-ordinated NASA's Hubble Heritage Project's first 2 years of making images from Hubble Space Telescope observations.  Her communications with the public are well-served by her education at the Ontario College of Art and Design University as well as her astrophysics degrees at the University of Toronto and the Australian National University.