Dr. JJ Kavelaars, Head of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC) and Principal Research Officer at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics (HAA) Research Centre has just been recognized with one of the top honours in Canadian astronomy – the 2022 Dunlap Award for Innovation in Astronomical Research Tools from the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA). Every 2 years, the award is presented to an individual or team for instrumentation or software that has enabled significant advances in astronomy. This year, Dr. Kavelaars has been recognized for his leadership at the CADC.
Operating out of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) near Victoria, BC, the CAD is one of the largest and most powerful astronomy data management centres in the world, delivering over a petabyte (1 million gigabytes) of data each year to astronomers worldwide. It hosts data from more than 250 telescope and instrument combinations, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Gemini Observatory – and soon the James Webb Space Telescope.
Dr. Kavelaars has been head of the CADC for 5 years. During this time, the CADC has provided public access to its largest number of telescope archival datasets, helped bring high-performance distributed cloud computing services to Canadian astronomers via the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR), and laid the groundwork for new archives and processing environments for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Square Kilometre Array.
Dr. Kavelaars' leadership of the CADC has enabled it to literally set the bar for virtual observatory data standards – a new model, the Common Archive Observation Model (CAOM) – developed by the CADC to make data search and retrieval easier for astronomers, has been incorporated into International Virtual Observatory Alliance standards. Speaking to the impact of this improved access, the CADC is now acknowledged in over 300 papers every year.
Nominations across the astronomy world
"JJ's science-driven approach, and his leadership skills, have enabled the CADC team to be at the front line of new innovative developments for data intensive astronomy research."
"JJ has played a pivotal role in a number of software developments and data distribution mechanisms. For example, he was the lead developer of the VOSpace File System on CANFAR that has subsequently been used to distribute many millions of data files to astronomers working across multiple fields."
Continued research efforts
In addition to his role at HAA with the CADC, Dr. Kavelaars is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria and continues to make ground-breaking discoveries in the Kuiper Belt using ground and space-based telescopes, as well as being a part of NASA's New Horizons mission team.
A history of innovation to support astronomy at the NRC
In its brief history, the Dunlap Award has also previously been awarded to HAA's Peter Stetson in 2016, for his work in photometry, developing the DAOPHOT program, and a star catalog which underpins the majority of photometric observations carried out today.