Areas of Interest:
My research is a natural result of two desires: to work in astronomy in areas that are impactful to our future, and to write cool software. The study of near Earth and Solar System dynamics lends understanding those things that literally will hit us on the head, and of particular interest to me, am understanding of spacecraft risk. As a race we have all our eggs in one basket sitting here on the surface of Earth. Any moment I can spend helping our good friends at NASA, ESA, CSA or private enterprise to get us out into other homes is a moment well spent. This is not to say I do not have interest in the pure science of understanding the constituents and processes around the formation of our solar system, the galaxy and the cosmos. I do. In particular, comets are messengers from the early solar system, left-over and rejected material from the early days of planet formation. The meteoroid streams comets produce represent some of the oldest material we encounter.
A Brief History of How I Got Here:
Apart from a college astronomy course in Quebec in the early 70's, my real interest in astronomy began like many amateur astronomers, with a bright red 4" inch diameter Tasco reflector telescope beckoning me to enter a camera store. This lead to my wife Angela buying me a membership to the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1990. Thus began a 24 year involvement with the Society where I developed a love of teaching and demonstrating astronomy to children and the public. In 1992 I combined my interest in astronomy education with my career as a self-employed software developer, and began to play with astronomical planetarium software. In 1996 I took my knowledge of real-time 3D computer graphics methods and combined that with planetary positioning work from my planetarium software. ClearSky was born. London Centre connections with the Meteor Physics group at UWO led to the group taking some interest in my software and forging a perhaps longer-than-expected connection. I began work on an MSc in Astronomy in the summer of 2007 and graduated in the summer of 2010. In 2011 after a year of more relaxed research, I embarked on a PhD in Geophysics within the department of Earth Sciences. This will likely be a 6-year journey, hopefully coming to fruition in 2017.
I now consider myself both an amateur and a professional, an amateur as I am in astronomy simply for the love of it, a professional in that I'm proud to be able to contribute to the science in a formal manner.