U of T Astronomer Wins Michael Penston Prize


Courtesy: Jennifer Chan.

The Royal Astronomical Society has awarded its 2020 Michael Penston Thesis Prize to University of Toronto Astronomer Dr. Jennifer Chan.

A Postdoctoral Fellow at The Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) and an Associate at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chan’s research focuses on ionization and magnetism – aiming to understand how the Universe came to be what it is today.

The Penston award recognizes the best doctoral thesis in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Chan’s winning PhD thesis is called “All-sky Radiative Transfer and Characterisation for Cosmic Structures.”

“My thesis developed theoretical frameworks that allow astrophysicists to compare theory with observation,” she explains.

Chan says she is grateful for this recognition. “I am deeply honoured to be awarded the Penston Thesis Prize,” she says. “Going through this process during the pandemic was not easy. I could not have achieved this without those who have helped, encouraged, and supported me along this path.”

“It is wonderful to see Jennifer’s work recognized by the Royal Astronomical Society,” says CITA Acting Director and Professor Dr. Norm Murray. “Her award winning work combines the theory of general relativity with theories describing the interaction of radio waves, with magnetized plasmas to study the distribution of matter in the Universe. Dr. Chan exemplifies the world-leading scholarship of CITAzens, and we are delighted for her.”

The Michael Penston Prize is awarded annually. The winner receives a cash prize, as well as an invitation to present their results at an Ordinary Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society.

This is the second time in two years that a University of Toronto Astronomy researcher has won the Penston Prize, following Dr. Luke Pratley, who won the award for 2019 in 2020.


For more information, please contact:
Meaghan MacSween
Communications and Multimedia Officer
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics,
University of Toronto

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto is an endowed research institute with more than 90 faculty, postdocs, students and staff, dedicated to innovative technology, ground-breaking research, world-class training, and public engagement. The research themes of its faculty and Dunlap Fellows span the Universe and include: optical, infrared and radio instrumentation; Dark Energy; large-scale structure; the Cosmic Microwave Background; the interstellar medium; galaxy evolution; cosmic magnetism; and time-domain science. The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, David A. Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics comprise the leading centre for astronomical research in Canada, at the leading research university in the country, the University of Toronto.