U of T Astronomy Student Wins First Professor Mercedes T. Richards Award


Dunlap Institute Director Bryan Gaensler presents award to Madeline Nardin. Credit: Dunlap Institute.

University of Toronto undergraduate student Madeline Nardin is the winner of the 2022 Professor Mercedes T. Richards Award for Excellence in summer undergraduate research in astronomy.

This is the inaugural year for this award, named after renowned astronomer and U of T alum (PhD 1986) Professor Mercedes T. Richards. The award was created to recognize a student in U of T Astronomy’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and growth in scientific research.

Nardin is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, specializing in Astronomy & Physics. During SURP, she worked with Professor Keith Vanderlinde, developing technologies to observe the origin and evolution of the universe and short-lived astronomical phenomena, such as fast radio bursts.

“I am tremendously honoured to receive the Mercedes T. Richards Award,” Nardin says. “It’s awesome to be recognized for the work I’ve done in SURP – that work continues to motivate me in my research.”

The award honours the memory of Professor Mercedes T. Richards and her contributions to the fields of Physics and Astronomy, both through her ground-breaking astronomy research, as well as her advocacy of young people within science, including women and other underrepresented groups. Professor Richards, who passed away in 2016, went on to a distinguished career after graduating from U of T. With research spanning computational astrophysics, stellar astrophysics, and exoplanets/brown dwarfs, she was a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University at the time of her death.

“My family and I are grateful this award has been established to honour the memory of Mercedes,” says Professor Donald Richards, husband of the late Professor Richards.

“We know that Mercedes would have been very pleased to see her name associated with an award for summer research by undergraduate students, for undergraduate education was of the utmost importance to her.”

The Award includes a $2000 cash prize. Nominations can be made during the SURP program, which runs from May to August every year and is administered by the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

For more information about the Professor Mercedes T. Richards Award for Excellence in Summer Undergraduate Research, you can visit the award page, here.


For more information, please contact:

Meaghan MacSween
Communications and Multimedia Officer
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto