Mr. Benjamin Lionel Gerard completed his M.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy in 2016 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at University of Victoria. Benjamin’s second master subject was a detailed simulations and laboratory experiment to test the “double star wavefront sensing” technique to be applied on double stars, such as Alpha Centauri to image terrestrial planets by reflected light. This part of his master thesis is something he found by his own. Currently, in his PhD, he has already dived into three main projects: A Gemini Planet Finder possible upgrade (SCC camera concept); a new point spread function subtraction algorithm that combines ADI, SSDI and RDI; and designing new high-contrast imaging bench at NRC, learning about optical design work using Zemax. He has received a Graduate Studies scholarship and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Postgraduate Scholarship-Doctoral. Benjamin is quite motivated to pursue a career in astronomy and exoplanet imaging, from the ground or space.
Relevance to TEPS
Imaging and spectroscopy from direct detection of exoplanets provide clues to planet formation and atmospheric chemistry and will ultimately discover spectroscopic biosignatures of habitability. Benjamin’s PhD research, will focus on analysis techniques and laboratory experiments to help advance the eld of exoplanet imaging to achieve this goal. Benjamin is also considering the possibility of transitioning into industry after his PhD, so the TEPS program would provide an opportunity to get experience and perspective about industrial applications of his research, particularly in optics, control theory, and the interface between scientists and engineers.