Student and postdoc observing travel funds

I regret to inform the community that NSERC has declined to fund the Travel Support Program that helped cover costs for student travel to offshore telescopes in which Canada has an interest through agreements with NRC.

From its inception some 25 years ago, the Program has been funded by NSERC and administered through NRC. Recent changes in government policy prevented NSERC from allowing NRC to administer such a grant and an alternative approach was needed. While all advice provided to us was followed, the end result is that the NSERC review committee did not recommend further funding. Consequently, the program is discontinued. NRC will not accept any further applications and those that are currently pending will not be funded.

The cancellation of this Program, after some 25 years, is deeply regrettable. Over the past decade, the demand for travel to obtain data has diminished due to the prevalence of queued service observing at the telescopes. While several students were able to take advantage of extended stays, enabled by the Observatories, to increase their understanding of how queued systems work and gain an appreciation for the modern observational techniques, the review committee was sceptical of the value, as such benefits are difficult to quantify. The problem of providing student access to telescopes is an important issue in Canadian astronomy and NRC remains interested in assisting the university community in finding a solution within the constraints imposed by the legal and financial framework in which we all must work.

I am very grateful for the cooperation of York University and Professor Michael De Robertis, Chair of the Advisory Board, for their assistance in preparing and submitting the proposal on behalf of the community.

Greg Fahlman
Director General