University of Toronto astronomers are available to visit your school or community group to talk about astronomy and answer questions. Whether you’d like a short discussion about meteors with your grade one class or an in-depth talk on the nature of dark energy for your amateur astronomy group, we’ve got you covered. Best of all, this service is free within the Toronto area. (If you’d like a speaker for an event outside the Toronto area, please get in touch and we’ll discuss options.)


How to book a speaker:

All of our speakers and their talks titles or topics are listed below.
Once you’ve selected a speaker, please e-mail us at outreach@dunlap.utoronto.ca.


We’ll need the following information:

  • A description of your group (name, location, age range, grade if appropriate)
  • Your preferred speaker and topic
  • The dates and times that you’re available. Please provide us with a few options.



Dr. Roberto Abraham

Talk Titles:

Finding your place in Space and Time

Canada and the James Webb Space Telescope

The Origin of Galaxies


Roberto Abraham is a Professor of Astronomy and Associate Chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. His research is in galaxy formation and evolution, as well as in the use of new technologies to enable breakthrough discoveries in astronomy. He led the Gemini Deep Deep Survey and is co-Principal Investigator of Project Dragonfly, a radical new concept to image the Universe using an array of small telescopes. He currently serves as Canadian representative on the James Webb Space Telescope’s Advisory Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Gemini Observatory. He has received many awards for his research and teaching, including a Steacie Fellowship, the Martin Prize of the Canadian Astronomical Society and the University of Toronto’s Outstanding Teaching Award.


Dr. Ray Carlberg

Talk Titles:

Supernova Cosmology

Dark Matter

Canada and the Thirty Meter Telescope

Ray Carlberg is a Professor of Astronomy and a CIFAR Fellow. He is primarily interested in cosmology and galaxy formation and has recently helped lead the Supernova Legacy Survey. He is the Canadian project director of the Thirty Meter Telescope and is working to develop an observatory on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic.


Dr. Bryan Gaensler

Talk Titles:

The Dish, The Desert and The Dawn of the Universe

How the Cosmos Will Kill You

Magnets in the Sky

The World Records of the Universe

Bryan Gaensler is the Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He is a leading international researcher in cosmic magnetism, supernova explosions and interstellar gas. His research focuses on why the Universe is magnetic, as well as on the study of transient phenomenon as a unique probe of fundamental physics.


Heather Fong

Talk Titles:

Einstein was Right! The Discovery of Gravitational Waves

Heather Fong is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. She studies gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space and time, and uses them to learn about black holes. She is also a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the team that made the first direct detection of gravitational waves.


Dr. Rachel Friesen

Talk Titles:

How are new solar systems born?

New eyes on our origins: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

Rachel Friesen is a Dunlap Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. Her research focuses on how stars form within giant molecular clouds in our galaxy, using telescopes that detect the radio emission from dust and gas that shroud newborn stars.


Dr. Christopher Matzner

Talk Titles:

Cosmic origins of everyday life

Spectacular deaths of massive stars

Star clusters: engines of galactic turmoil

Giant black holes and their secret lives

Dr. Matzner’s broad research involves the births and deaths of stars and the life cycle of matter within galaxies. His recent projects focus on the creation of stellar binaries and star clusters, the energetic motions caused by giant nebulae, supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts, and how some unlucky stars get shredded by black holes. Click to visit Dr. Matzner’s web site.


Dr. John Percy

Talk Titles:

The Amazing Universe

Toronto’s Astronomical Heritage

The Birth, Life, and Bizarre Deaths of the Stars

Common Misconceptions about the Universe: From Everyday Life to the Big Bang

Archaeoastronomy: The Astronomy of Civilizations Past

John Percy is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and in Science Education. His research deals with the nature and evolution of the stars. He is also active in astronomy education, at all levels, throughout the world. He has received many awards for his work in education and outreach, most recently the 2013 Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society.


Dr. Michael Reid

Talk Titles:

Misconceptions about the Big Bang

Life in the Cosmos

The Lives and Deaths of Stars

The Search for Earth-like Planets

Dr. Reid’s research area is star formation–the process of turning vast clouds of gas and dust into new stars. He teaches several classes in introductory astronomy for non-scientists and frequently gives public talks on topics spanning all of astronomy. He will happily create a new presentation on a topic of your choice, or can deliver one of his prepared favourites.


Dr. Hanno Rein

Talk Titles:

Exoplanets: Strange New Worlds

Saturn’s Rings and Cassini

Dr. Hanno Rein wants to find out how planetary systems form. He maintains a large database of all discovered exoplanets, planets outside our own Solar System. Using large super-computers, he is simulating the evolution of planets and Saturn’s rings.


Dr. Keith Vanderlinde

Talk Titles:

Science at the South Pole

Cosmology, Cell Phones, and Video Games

Dr. Vanderlinde’s research concerns the earliest eras of the universe. He uses telescopes all over the world–including Antarctica–to study the the cosmic microwave background, which is the oldest light in the universe. Dr. Vanderlinde is an engaging speaker who gives highly entertaining and informative accounts of what it’s like to do astronomy in Antarctica.

Jennifer West

Dr. Jennifer West

Talk Titles:

The Universe in a Nutshell

Nature’s Supercolliders: The Extreme Environments of Stellar Graveyards

What Happens When All the Dark Places Are Gone?

Dr. West is a Postdoctoral Fellow who uses large radio surveys to study magnetic fields in the universe. She is also enthusiastic about astronomy education and outreach. A long time member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), she is the recipient of the 2011 International Dark Sky Association’s Dark Sky Defender Award and the 2010 RASC’s Ken Chilton Prize for her contributions to astronomy education and outreach.


Dr. Yanqin Wu

Talk Titles:

Extrasolar planets

The origin of the solar system

Yanqin Wu is an associate professor of astronomy. She is engaged with studying the formation of Solar system and extra-solar planetary systems. Problems she has studied include, e.g., the survival of Mercury, the formation of Kuiper belt, Pluto and its moons, the migration of Jovian planets in extra-solar systems, and planets detected by the Kepler space mission.