Physics and astronomy PhD student George Conidis in the Faculty of Science was invited to participate in a discussion with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, about education cooperation in late June.
The event was part of an announcement by the two heads of state about their intention to make it easier for students to go between Canada and Mexico on learning exchanges. A group of Canadian students who have travelled or plan to travel to Mexico for an exchange, as well as Mexican students studying in Canada, attended and were encouraged to ask questions in a Q&A session following the announcement.
Conidis was invited because of a learning exchange he completed in Mexico as part of his PhD research. He visited an observatory high in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir Mountains of Mexico to collect data on how galaxies spin and tilt. He made nine trips to the telescope and discovered that galaxies spin at an angle to each other that is not predicted by theory. His findings earned him extensive media attention and the 2015 Mitacs PhD Award for Outstanding Innovation.
“The opportunity to conduct research in Mexico not only allowed me to have access to equipment that I needed to answer my research questions, but also gave me excellent hands-on experience and taught me many personal skills, such as learning how to communicate well with people and becoming comfortable with stepping out of my comfort zone,” said Conidis.
Conidis is in the last year of his PhD, which he is completing under the supervision of Professor Marshall McCall, chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy.