Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Project Overview (2003)


  • The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics has ambitious plans to establish the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Dunlap Institute) as a renewal of the memorial that founded the David Dunlap Observatory.
  • The long-term future of the Dunlap Institute would be ensured by an endowment established on disposition of the lands of the David Dunlap Observatory, a 180 acre site in Richmond Hill.
  • The resources available through the Dunlap Institute would elevate the University of Toronto’s astronomy and astrophysics work to a level matched only by the top centres internationally.
  • The multi-faceted Dunlap Institute would assume a prominent leadership position in research, teaching and advanced training, and public outreach. Specific objectives of the Institute are to:
    • create an international centre of research excellence in astronomy and astrophysics;
    • participate in the development of scientific instrumentation for world-class observatories;
    • promote interaction and provide leadership to create major national and international research collaborations with a focus on the theme of ‘origins’;
    • engage in grand computational astrophysics problems;
    • promote advanced training opportunities for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research associates;
    • organize and host international workshops and meetings;
    • provide a primary means for channeling information on astronomy and astrophysics to the general public.
  • The Dunlap Institute would consist primarily of endowed chairs; support for permanent staff, research fellows, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and a visitors program; and an instrumentation and computing development fund.
  • Rather than the costly proposition of operating a large telescope, the Dunlap Institute would develop access to major private facilities on a time limited, project basis. This strategy produces tremendous opportunities for leverage, by providing seed or matching funds for development of instrumentation and/or by forming strategic partnerships with other institutions (one concrete example being the current collaboration with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington on the Magellan Project).
  • The Dunlap Institute would be housed on the St. George campus, in close proximity to Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, and Physics.