Chris Hadfield joins ESS381 for a Q & A

Professor Kim Tait’s ESS381 Special Topics course had the opportunity to ask Commander Chris Hadfield questions when he called in to the class on Monday, January 30th. Some of the questions concerned the role geology plays in astronaut training.  Commander Hadfield stated geology was one of his first loves and he was fortunate to have a high school that taught a geology class.  He stated astronauts train extensively with geologist to learn and understand the various formations they photograph from space so that they can take interesting and informative images.  On missions, geology knowledge is essential to astronauts when they become “Geo Tech’s” operating equipment to collect and run analysis on rock and soil samples, sending results to labs where geologists will study them.  Canada’s role and the importance of world-wide collaboration in space exploration rounded out the topics of a very exciting class.

Welcome Back! Chair Russ Pysklywec is back from a sabbatical

Many thanks to Professor Grant Henderson who took on the role of Acting Chair for the 2016 calendar year while Professor Russ Pysklywec was on leave. Grant lead the department through an exciting year, celebrating the achievements of colleagues, steering infrastructure projects including the final stages of the Diamond Environmental Research Lab, the seminar room refurbishing, and the upgrading of classroom 1062 to a technology based teaching room along with the many administrative tasks that come with the office of a Chair.

Grant will resume his role as Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies.  Thanks are offered to Professor Uli Wortmann who stepped into that role for the year with enthusiasm.

We all look forward to a successful new year!

Scholarships for International Students

The Department of Earth Sciences offers two major internal scholarships for international students:
Keevil/Finday President’s Fellowships in Geology (for students who intend to take their expertise to emerging or developing nations)

Hugh Snyder International Scholarship in Earth Sciences (for international M.Sc. students from Latin America, Spain or Portugal)

If you wish to be considered for one of these, please notify the Graduate Administrator (ES 1066,

Students travel to Cape Canaveral for spacecraft launch

Three members of the Solar System Exploration Group (Alexandre Boivin, Brian Tsai, and Sara Mazrouei) in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida,on September 8th 2016, to watch the launch of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft which is travelling to Bennu, a Near-Earth asteroid.

Watch the launch on the video at this link!


PhD students Brian Tsai and Alexandre Boivin along with Dr. Michael Daly (OLA Lead Instrument Scientist, York University) speak with Kristy Duncan, Minister of Science prior to the launch of OSIRIS-REx. Photo credit: Kim Tait

OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) is the first US mission to return a sample from an asteroid to Earth. The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is collaborating with NASA on the mission by supplying the OLA instrument (OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter) which will measure the surface materials and topography of the asteroid Bennu. Faculty members Dr. Becky Ghent and Dr. Kim Tait (cross-appointed with the Royal Ontario Museum) are members of the OLA team. Alex and Brian (PhD Candidates, supervised by Dr. Ghent) are Science Team Members on the OSIRIS-REx mission as part of the OLA Team. Alex and Brian also met with The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science along with the rest of the OSIRIS-REx Canadian Science Team prior to the launch.

Video credit: Brian Tsai


Summer 2017 Capstone Field Trip info session

Anyone interested in joining the capstone field trip next summer (2017) in invited to attend an information session.

When:  Friday, October 14th

Time:  NOON

Place:  ES1067

Bancroft Award to Barb Sherwood Lollar

Congratulations to University Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar, this years winner of the Bancroft Award of the Royal Society of Canada.

The award is given for publication, instruction, and research in the earth sciences that have conspicuously contributed to public understanding and appreciation of the subject.










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