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Current Winner - 2023

Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

Nicolas Cowan

Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

McGill University

Astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting stars millions of lightyears away, most of which look nothing like the worlds in our solar system. Professor Nicolas Cowan has pursued a variety of observational and theoretical avenues to detect and understand the atmospheres and climates of these exoplanets. Cowan’s research group, the McGill Exoplanet Characterization Alliance (MEChA), works on the full gamut of exoplanet investigations, helping uncover new atmospheric processes. His group has pioneered techniques to map the surfaces and atmospheres of exoplanets, led groundbreaking projects to determine how planets absorb and transport heat, and conducted the first studies comparing the climates of exoplanets. He is currently collaborating with geochemists, space physicists, and climate scientists to investigate the habitability of rocky planets orbiting red dwarf stars. In the coming years, MEChA is turning its efforts to revolutionary data from the James Webb Space Telescope and Near-Infrared Planet Searcher in Chile, while Cowan leads Canada’s participation in the European Space Agency’s upcoming Ariel mission.

Cowan is a promoter of science literacy and advocate of equity in science. He led the development of the Climate App, a tool for audiences of all ages to learn about the greenhouse effect, global warming, and other climate phenomena. Cowan prides himself on running a diverse group that excels at producing and communicating science.

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