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Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellowship in Astronomical Instrumentation or Experimentation          


Applications for the Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellowship in Astronomical Instrumentation or Experimentation will be considered in five areas:


  1. Optical/infrared instrumentation and adaptive optics
  2. Design and construction of the GigaBIT visible/near-ultraviolet balloon-borne telescope
  3. Commissioning of outriggers for the CHIME/FRB project
  4. 21-cm cosmology with CHIME
  5. Development of the Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio transient Detector (CHORD) telescope

Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the descriptions below, and to contact relevant faculty in preparing their research statements and applications. Detailed information on individual faculty and links to their web pages can be found at this link.


1. Optical/infrared instrumentation and adaptive optics


We are advancing instrumentation for large optical and infrared telescopes in a few specific areas:

  1. Optical/infrared spectroscopy
  2. Adaptive Optics (AO)
  3. Astrophotonics

The Dunlap Institute is working on several optical and infrared instrumentation projects. Our primary focus is the Gemini Infrared Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS), the new AO-fed spectrograph that we are designing and constructing for the Gemini Observatory. We are also carrying out research and development for future multi-object spectroscopic survey facilities such as the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer.

Our adaptive optics program includes several different approaches to improving image quality. We are implementing new wavefront sensing techniques and algorithms at existing facilities: projects include GIRMOS, the MMTAO upgrade, and GPI CAL 2.0. We also pursue blue sky projects that evaluate new techniques like predictive control algorithms and wavefront sensing hardware using noise-less sensors.

Finally, we are developing astrophotonic solutions for both spectroscopy and adaptive optics. Two specific areas we are focusing on are correlation spectroscopic sensors that measure radial velocity and detect atomic/molecular species in stellar objects, and photonic phase correctors that correct for atmospheric turbulence.

Faculty contacts:


2. Design and construction of the GigaBIT visible/near-ultraviolet balloon-borne telescope


GigaBIT is a wide-field diffraction-limited near-ultraviolet and visible light telescope to be flown on a stratospheric balloon on 100-night missions.  We seek a postdoctoral fellow who is interested in taking a leadership role in the design, construction and integration of a major part of the experiment – depending on the candidate’s interests and skills.  Areas of expertise relevant to the position include:

  • Integration and flight of stratospheric balloon borne instruments
  • Writing embedded software in C or Rust.
  • FPGA programming
  • Electronics design and integration
  • Mechanical design including FEA (e.g., SolidWorks)
  • Thermal design (e.g., Thermal Desktop)
  • Telescope optical design / construction / testing
  • Astronomical instrumentation construction and integration

Note that it is not expected that the candidate will have expertise in all of these areas.

GigaBIT is planned to have its first engineering flight in 2025 or 2026.

Faculty contact:


3. Commissioning of outriggers for the CHIME Fast Radio Burst (FRB) project


The CHIME/FRB project is finalizing construction of its 3 “outrigger” telescopes, reduced-scale cylindrical telescopes spread across North America and oriented to match the field-of-view of CHIME, to allow simultaneous and overlapping observation with the main telescope. When bright FRBs are detected at CHIME, the raw voltages are recorded from all telescopes, for offline correlation and localization. This allows localization of most CHIME/FRB events to within tens of milli-arcseconds, sufficient for host identification, and in many cases study of the local environment. Ultimately, FRB data from the outrigger system will open the door to deciphering FRB emission mechanism(s) and to using FRBs as cosmological probes in their own right.

Proof-of-concept measurements have already taken place on prototype systems, and with first light on all three outriggers occurring imminently, full commissioning and study of the compound system will soon begin. Understanding clocking, ionospheric, and other systematic uncertainties will be key to making full use of the new array, and many options exist where new researchers could make critical contributions to the success of the CHIME/FRB outrigger program.

Faculty contacts:


4. 21-cm cosmology with CHIME


The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is designed to map the large-scale structure of neutral hydrogen over the redshift range 0.8 to 2.5, with the goal of constraining the expansion history of the Universe. CHIME is now operating at high efficiency and scanning the northern sky every day, as it performs the largest-volume astronomical survey to date. Research opportunities to use the wealth of data generated by CHIME include: the analysis of daily sky maps and raw interferometric visibilities to identify and remove astrophysical foregrounds; development and validation of the cosmology pipeline: estimation and analysis of 21-cm power spectra; and investigation of new techniques to address systematic errors.

Faculty contacts:


5. Development of the Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio transient Detector (CHORD)


The Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio-transient Detector (CHORD) is a major new facility under development, which will make groundbreaking measurements of the radio sky. Composed of 512 x 6-metre dishes in a close-packed core array, augmented by two 64-dish “outrigger” stations at VLBI distances, CHORD will provide unparalleled sensitivity to a range of topics, from fast radio burst and pulsar discovery to 21-cm intensity mapping, when it turns on in 2025.

The Dunlap Institute is a central partner in the CHORD collaboration, and is leading development on the overall telescope architecture as well as large portions of the analog and digital subsystems. Specific hardware packages that a postdoctoral fellow at the Dunlap Institute could participate in include the ultra-wideband (UWB) feeds, radio-frequency-over-fibre (RFoF) transport layer, and the FX digital correlator / beamformer supercomputer; downstream science backends are also under heavy development.

Faculty contacts: