February Grad Student of the Month: Victor Chan


Credit: Victor Chan.

Victor focuses on applying new methods and statistics to cosmological studies as a fifth year PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.

Originally from Toronto, Victor also completed an Honours Astronomy and Astrophysics specialist degree from U of T.

How did you first become interested in Astronomy and Astrophysics?

As a child, I visited the Ontario Science Centre and I was fascinated by their aerospace exhibit and planetarium. I have also always loved puzzles and problem solving, and I quickly learned in high school that physics and astronomy was a lot like solving puzzles with math. From then on, I was pretty much hooked!

Can you tell us a little bit about your specific field of research?

I’m mainly interested in cosmology, which is the study of the origins and evolution of the Universe. I have spent the majority of my PhD developing a new technique for statistically characterizing the gravitational lensing effects of massive galaxy clusters on our observations of the relic radiation from the Big Bang (i.e. the cosmic microwave background). I also split my time applying astrostatistics techniques to improve local measurements of the Universe’s present-day expansion rate.

What’s the most exciting thing about your research?

It’s got to be the fact that my work directly contributes to our understanding of our Universe’s origins and evolution. These are questions that I’ve been asking myself throughout my childhood, and I’m fortunate to be able to help find the answers.

What do you hope will be your next step, professionally?

I would be happy to continue a career in astronomy, but my roots in Toronto are a little too strong. Instead, I’d like to find a job that takes advantage of the many skills I’ve honed through astronomy research like applying statistics to data, and developing code for high performance computing.

For more 2022 Grad Student of the Month profiles, visit: dunlap.utoronto.ca/2022-grad-students-of-the-month.

Credit: Victor Chan.

“A simulation I made of how the CMB might look before and after it’s been lensed.” Credit: Victor Chan.

“A plot showing how the method I’ve been developing can pick out lensing signals (or lack thereof) from the original and lensed maps.” Credit: Victor Chan.



The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto is an endowed research institute with over 80 faculty, postdocs, students, and staff, dedicated to innovative technology, ground-breaking research, world-class training, and public engagement.

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