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René Doyon – Professor

René Doyon

Credit: Amélie Philibert/Université de Montréal

  • Quote: Follow your instinct in making important decisions, as it rarely fails you.
  • Studies:
    • B.Sc. in physics from the Université de Montréal
    • Master's degree in astrophysics from the Université de Montréal
    • Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK)
  • Job title: Professor in the Department of Physics at the Université de Montréal
  • Employer: Université de Montréal

What is your connection to the James Webb Space Telescope?
I am the principal investigator of the Canadian-built instruments on Webb: the Fine Guidance Sensor which will allow the telescope to point at and focus on objects of interest and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph, that will help study many astronomical objects, from exoplanets to distant galaxies (FGS/NIRISS).

What part of the Webb mission are you most excited about?
In short, trying to answer this big question: Are we alone? More specifically, studying exoplanets, worlds beyond the solar system that could have the right conditions for life to flourish.

What is the best part of your job?
Working with people. Solving complex scientific and technical problems is nowadays rarely the affair of a few individuals. It requires a lot of good teamwork on all scales: local, national and international.

How did you choose your career path?
I've always been fascinated by science and more specifically physics and astronomy. I was a teenager when I decided to become a physics professor at a university.

What advice would you give young people interested in going into space science?
Just believe in it! It's up to you to make your dream come true. Of course, you need to be a little good at math and science in general, but being passionate with a strong desire to do it is all you need. The rest is details, including quite a bit of work, but who cares if you love it!

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