Geneva scholar brings ‘star power’ to campus

Paul Mayne // Western News

The sky is the limit for University of Geneva postdoctoral student Anahi Granada, who’ll call Western’s Physics and Astronomy home for the next 18 months, part of a funded program through the Swiss National Science Foundation.

The stars have aligned for Anahi Granada.

The University of Geneva postdoctoral scholar, along with her husband Jorge German Rubino, a visiting geophysicist in Geology, will call London home for the next 18 months thanks to a $90,000 grant she received as an Advanced Mobility Postdoc, funded through the Swiss National Science Foundation.

With the option to go anywhere in the world, Granada chose to work with Physics and Astronomy professors Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut, along with others in the Faculty of Science.

“This was a great opportunity for me to go anywhere to further my research,” said Granada, who studies stellar rotation, which plays a relevant role in the evolution of stars. “There are some very good groups around the world, and one of them is here at Western. It’s not like I’m here to do research detached from my work. Here, there are experts in the modeling of circumstellar disks.”

A circumstellar disk is a ring-shaped accumulation of matter, composed of gas, dust, planetesimals, asteroids or collision fragments in orbit around a star.

“I am involved in what happens when a rotating star evolves and the effects it has. I hope to learn from their knowledge. By studying these objects you can learn a lot about rotation, which is a physical property of stars that have an impact in things such as its lifetime. Stars are like extreme laboratories and you can learn so much about them by studying them.”

Granada completed her undergraduate and PhD work in her home country of Argentina before moving to Switzerland and the University of Geneva, following her husband who had a position lined up at the university. Granada was soon offered a postdoctoral position.

Coming to Western is somewhat of a homecoming for her. When she submitted her application for the grant last August, she had Western at the top of her list. Coincidentally, she spoke at Western a couple weeks later, but did not know she was accepted through the program until late December.

“I wanted to go to a place where there was a group working on a subject I was interested in,” said Granada, who is expecting her first child later this fall. “It’s also an opportunity to start new collaborations, between a Swiss institution and here in Canada.”

Stellar rotation plays a relevant role in the evolution of stars. Not only does it modify their mass, angular momentum and energy content, but it also affects their lifetimes and the final fate of the star. Therefore, rotation leaves an imprint on stars that impact the observed characteristics of stellar clusters and galaxies, she added.

In London for just over a month now, Granada has been busy getting settled, finding a home, a family doctor and familiarizing herself with the weather.

“We hear winter is quite longer here so that will be different for us,” she laughed. “Things are getting a lot easier. Working with Carol Jones, everyone is willing and ready to be helping me and I hope to perhaps work on a project very soon.”