Hilding R. Neilson
Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
50 St. George Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3H4 Canada
Phone:+1-647-978-3436
E-mail:
neilson@astro.utoronto.ca
Web: www.hildingneilson.com Citizenship: Canadian



Profile
I am an astrophysicist interested in the physics of stars, from the nuclear-burning core out to the circumstellar medium where stellar winds interact with the interstellar medium. I employ theoretical and numerical tools to compare with data sets to further our understanding of stars. More specifically, I study stellar evolution, structure and atmospheres of massive stars including classical Cepheid stars, red giant and supergiant stars. I am also interested in low-mass planet-hosting stars and their atmospheres and the connections between measured star and planet properties. I am experienced with teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level as well as participating in public outreach and science communication.

Experience

CLTA assistant professor, university of Toronto 2014 - present
Term appointment faculty in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.
Adjunct Faculty, east Tennessee state university 2014 - 2015
Adjunct faculty position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at East Tennessee State University.
RESEARCH assistant professor, east Tennessee state university 2013 - 2014
Research scientist position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at East Tennessee State University.
Postdoctoral Research scientist, east Tennessee state university 2012 - 2013 Postdoctoral research position in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at East Tennessee State University with Prof. Richard Ignace.
Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow, Argelander Institute for Astronomy 2010 - 2012
Independent postdoctoral research fellowship (funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) in the Stellar Physics Research Group at the Argelander Institute for Astronomy led by Prof. Norbert Langer.
Argelander Fellow, Argelander Institute for Astronomy 2009 - 2010
Postdoctoral research fellowship in the Stellar Physics Research Group at the Argelander Institute for Astronomy supervised by Prof. Norbert Langer.
Sessional Instructor, University of Toronto Mississauga Jan - May 2009
Lecturer for Astronomy 201: Introduction to Stars & Galaxies for non-science students.

Education

University of Toronto, PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Toronto, 2009 Dissertation: The Dynamic Atmospheres of Classical Cepheids: Studies of Atmospheric Extension, Mass Loss, & Shocks Supervisor: Professor John B. Lester
St. Mary’s University, BSc Honors in Mathematics & Astrophysics, Halifax, 2003
Pasadena Academy High School, Diploma, Pasadena, 1998

Teaching Experience

  • University of Toronto, 2015 - 2016
    • AST251: Life on other worlds - science elective course for science students about the prospects for finding life beyond the Earth
    • AST210: Great Moments in Astronomy - science elective course for science students with an emphasis on the scientific method from the perspective of the great astronomical discoveries from the heliocentric model of the solar system to the expansion and acceleration of the Universe.
    • PMU199: Physics and Math of the Universe - an introductory seminar course for first-year students. The course explored various topics in astronomy where students researched questions in each lecture and presented results to other students.
  • University of Toronto, 2014 - 2015
    • AST251: Life on other worlds - science elective course for science students about the prospects for finding life beyond the Earth
    • AST222: Galaxies and Cosmology - core astrophysics course for second-year students introducing the study of galaxies from the Milky Way and beyond, including topics on galactic structure and evolution. The second part introduces cosmology with discussion about the Big Bang, cosmic microwave background and questions about dark matter and dark energy.
    • PMU199: Physics and Math of the Universe - an introductory seminar course for first-year students. The course explored various topics in astronomy where students researched questions in each lecture and presented results to other students.
  • Participated in workshop “2014 ETSU STEM Conference”, May 29-30, 2014
  • Participated in teaching workshop “Teaching Every Student: ASTRO 101 Approaches for Diverse Audiences” at the 221st Meeting of the AAS, January 2013
  • Teaching assistant for Graduate Astronomy Course in Science Writing led by Prof. Rob Izzard at the University of Bonn, Spring 2012
  • Guest Lecturer for Graduate Astronomy Course on Stellar Evolution at the University of Bonn, Fall 2010 & Fall 2011
  • Lecturer for Astronomy 201 (Introductory Astronomy for non-science students) at University of Toronto at Mississauga, Winter 2009
  • Teaching Assistant at University of Toronto at Mississauga, 2006 - 2008
  • Teaching Assistant at University of Toronto, 2003 - 2008
  • Teaching Assistant at St. Mary’s University, 2002 - 2003

Undergraduate Student Supervision

  • Chris (Yuan Qi) Ni, University of Toronto, 2015 - 2016: “Pulsation and Evolution of the Ultra-Long-Period Cepheids
  • J.T. McNeil, (East Tennessee State University), 2013 - 2015: “Testing Model Stellar Atmospheres with Planetary Transit Observations
    • poster presented at the 223rd meeting of the AAS, Washington D.C., USA, 5 - 9 January 2014

Research Grants & Observing Proposals

  • Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 23, 2015, declined, Guinan, E. (P.I.), Engle, S., & Neilson, H.R. (Co-I) The secret lives of Cepheids: Hubble Variable V19 in M33 - a Cepheid no more?
  • Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 23, 2015, declined, Engle, S. (P.I.), Guinan, E. (Co-P.I.), Harper, G., Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), & Evans, N.R. Stellar atmospheres of the instability strip: surveying Cepheids and yellow supergiants with HST-COS
  • Kepler K2 Space Observatory 2015, accepted, Molnár, L. (P.I.), Szabó, R., Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), Evans, N.R., & Szabados, L, + KASC WG#7 members, Sampling the Cepheid instability strip with K2
  • Spitzer Infrared Observatory 2014, declined, Smith, B.J. (P.I.), Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), Guinan, E., & Ignace, R. The infrared secrets of Type II Cepheids: probing low metallicity stellar evolution, mass loss, and standard candles
  • XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory 2014, accepted, Guinan, E. (P.I.), Engle, S., Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), Harper, G., & Evans, N.R. Exposing the secret X-ray lives of Cepheids with XMM-Newton
  • XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory 2014, accepted, Oskinova, L. (P.I.), Balona, L., Hamann, W.-R., Hubrig, S., Huemoerder, D., Ignace, R., Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), & Todt, H. X-ray pulsations of massive stars: XMM opens a new door to stellar physics
  • Kepler K2 Space Observatory 2014, accepted, Molnár, L. (P.I.), Szabó, R., Kolenberg, K., Plachy, E., Moskalik, P., Ngeow, C.-C., Kuehn, C., Jeon, Y.-B., Evans, N.R., Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), Derekas, A., + KASC WG#7 members, Classical and Type II Cepheids in the C4 and C5 fields of the K2 mission
  • Chandra X-ray Observatory Cycle 16 2014, accepted, Huenemoerder, D.P. (P.I.), Oskinova, L., Hamann, W.-R., Ignace, R., Schulz, N., & Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), A Deep X-ray Look at a Very Massive Star: HETGS Spectroscopy of the Blue Hypergiant HIP 101364 - $56,366
  • Very Large Array 2014 Semester B, accepted, Matthews, L. (P.I), Neilson, H.R. (Co-I), Marengo, M., & Evans, N.R. A Search for Mass Loss from Cepheid Variables
  • Lulin Optical Telescope 2013, Neilson, H.R. (P.I.), Ngeow, C.-C., Ignace, R., Henson, G., Adams, A., & Luttermoser, D. Polarization of Mira Variable Stars: Constraints on stellar structure
  • Lulin Optical Telescope 2013, Neilson, H.R. (P.I.), Ngeow, C.-C., Guinan, E., Engle, S., & Ignace, R. What drives a Cepheid wind -- Constraints from polarization observations
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship 2010 - Grant - 73,200€

Awards

  • Highlighted article in Astronomy & Astrophysics Issue 537
  • Finalist for best poster at Cool Stars 16, Seattle, USA. August 29 - September 2, 2010
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (2010)
  • Michael Fieldus Memorial Award (2008),
  • Walter John Helm Government of Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science & Technology (2005, 2006)
  • Walter C. Sumner Memorial Fellowship (2005, 2006)
  • University of Toronto Fellowship (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
  • C.A. Chant Fellowship (2003)
  • St. Mary’s University Undergraduate Academic Scholarship (2000, 2001, 2002)
  • Canadian Millennium Scholarship (2000, 2001, 2002)
  • National Science & Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Summer Research Scholarship (2002)

Scientific Activities and Community Service

  • Served as referee for the journals: Astronomy & Astrophysics, the Astronomical Journal, the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the Astrophysical Journal, Monthly Notices of RAS and Astrophysics & Space Science
  • Participated in workshop “Leadership and Team-Building for Astronomers” at the 223rd meeting of the AAS, 5 - 9 January 2014
  • Served as reviewer for Austrian Science Fund, 2013, 2014
  • Served on review panel for NASA graduate fellowships, 2013
  • Member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), 2011 - present
  • Member of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA), 2005 - present
  • President of the Graduate Astronomy Student Association at the University of Toronto, 2006 - 2007
  • Treasurer for the Graduate Astronomy Student Association at the University of Toronto, 2004 - 2006

Public Outreach

  • Talk given at Astronomy on Tap Toronto, September 24, 2014
  • Invited talk at Bays Mountain StarFest, Oct. 12 - 14, 2012 on “Watching the North Star Age”
  • I have given many popular lectures for the monthly astronomy tour at the University of Toronto (2003 - 2009)

Invited
Talks
  • Stellar limb darkening: unsung hero or just another nuisance?, colloquium presented at Georgia State University, 4 June 2015
  • Exploring the frontiers of stellar astrophysics with classical Cepheids: rotation, convection, mass loss and multiplicity, colloquium presented at St. Mary’s University, 4 December 2014
  • Mass loss, binarity and rotation: testing the details of stellar astrophysics using classical Cepheids, colloquium presented at Western University, 20 November 2014
  • Pulsation and Mass Loss across the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram: From OB stars to Cepheids to Red Supergiants invited review talk presented at IAU Symposium 301: Precision Asteroseismology, Celebration of the Scientific Opus of Wojtek Dziembowski, Wrocław, Poland, 19-23 August 2013
  • A Better Understanding of Classical Cepheids: stellar evolution, mass loss and the infrared period-luminosity relation colloquium presented at the University of Denver, Denver USA, February 2013 and at the University of Toledo, Toledo USA, September 2013
  • The Life & Times of the North Star: what evolution models are telling us about Polaris and other Cepheids presented at the AAS meeting #220, Anchorage USA, June 2012
  • Pulsation, mass loss & circumstellar envelopes presented at Cepheid Workshop, Paris France, December 2009

Contributed
Talks
  • The Cepheid in the eclipsing binary system OGLE-LMC-CEP1812 is a stellar merger presented at the 224th meeting of the AAS, Boston, USA, 1 - 5 June 2014
  • Cepheid period jitter is caused by convective cells presented at the 223rd meeting of the AAS, Washington D.C. USA, 5 - 9 January 2014
  • Organized splinter session Asteroseismology & the Hubble Constant at IAU Symposium 301: Precision Asteroseismology, Celebration of the Scientific Opus of Wojtek Dziembowski, Wrocław, Poland, 19-23 August 2013
  • Cepheid Binary Synthesis: just how many are there? presented at the annual meeting of CASCA, Calgary, Canada, June 2012
  • Comparison of limb-darkening laws from plane-parallel and spherically-symmetric model stellar atmospheres presented at IAU Symposium 282: From Interacting Binaries to Exoplanets: Essential Modeling Tools, Tatranská Lomnica, Slovakia, July 2011
  • Limb darkening and model atmospheres presented at the annual meeting of CASCA, London Canada, May 2011
  • Resolving the Cepheid mass discrepancy with pulsation-driven mass loss presented at the AAS meeting #218, Boston USA, May 2011
  • Weighing Betelgeuse: measuring mass of red supergiants from stellar limb darkening presented at the 9th Pacific Rim Conference on Stellar Astrophysics, Lijiang China, April 2011
  • Stellar evolution with pulsation-driven mass loss: the case of LMC Cepheids presented at the 9th Pacific Rim Conference on Stellar Astrophysics, Lijiang China, April 2011
  • Measuring the Mass of Betelgeuse presented at the Annual Meeting of the Astronomishce Gesellscharft, Bonn Germany, September 2010
  • Limb darkening as a test of stellar atmospheres presented at the Annual Meeting of CASCA, Halifax Canada, May 2010
  • The connection between pulsation, mass loss & circumstellar shells in classical Cepheids presented at Stellar Pulsation: Challenges to Theory and Observation, Santa Fe USA, May 2009
  • Infrared excess and mass loss in LMC Cepheids presented at the Annual Meeting of CASCA, Toronto Canada May 2009
  • Analytical Derivation of Pulsation-driven mass loss in Classical Cepheids presented at the AAS meeting #211, Austin USA, January 2008

Non-Academic Interests / Experiences

  • Member of Qalibu First Nations Band (Canadian First Nation status number 0340695901)
  • Consulted for architectural design project for Forrec Inc. Toronto, Canada
  • Interests in history of astronomy, first nations/aboriginal sky lore, literature and science fiction/fantasy
  • Interviewed by Earth Magazine, Sciencas.nl (Dutch), WR2 Impuls (German) and ScienceNOW for my article The period change of the Cepheid Polaris suggest enhanced mass loss, 2012