Orla Aaquist

Assistant Professor, Physics

PhD (Calgary), M.Sc. (Calgary), B.Sc. (Alberta), B.Ed. (Queen's)

5-138N, City Centre Campus
10700 - 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB


Dr. Orla Aaquist has a B.Sc. from the University of Alberta, a B.Ed. from Queen’s University, and a MSc and PhD in physics, with a specialization in astrophysics, from the University of Calgary. During his masters and doctoral research he carried out a survey of compact planetary nebulae at radio wavelengths using the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico. Since receiving his doctorate, he has focused his efforts on teaching physics and astronomy at the undergraduate university level and participating in community science outreach efforts, working with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Scientist in the School programs and other science outreach organizations. Since 2009 his interests have focused on developing undergraduate research projects for MacEwan University students in the areas of physics and astronomy. He is collaborating with the Centre of Particle Physics at the University of Alberta in a venture to develop undergraduate research projects at big science research facilities such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, SNOLAB in Sudbury, and the CARISMA array in Northern Canada. He is currently working with MacEwan students to develope a new technology scintillator to detect high energy cosmic rays; he is working with the Edmonton Science Outreach Network to develop teaching and learning kits for junior high school teachers; he is collaborating with the University of Calgary and Athabasca University observatories to develop undergraduate projects in observational astronomy; and he is developing observing projects using MacEwan's SBIG ST-8300 CCD camera and their Meade LX200-ACF telescope. He is also collaborating with Athabasca University on projects to develop inexpensive laboratory experiments for distant learning and single concept learning tools for first year university physics courses.

Available to supervise honours or individual study students.

astronomy, astrophysics, undergraduate research, telescopes, cosmic rays, stars

Teaching and Research Interests

  • PHYS 108 University Physics I
  • PHYS 109 University Physics II
  • PHYS 124 Physics for Life Sciences I
  • PHYS 126 Physics for Life Sciences II
  • PHYS 130 Waves Motion Optics and Sound
  • ENGG 130 Engineering Mechanics
  • ENPH 131 Mechanics
  • PHYS 144 Mechanics and Waves
  • PHYS 208 Quantum Aspects of Modern Physics
  • PHYS 212 Revolutions in Physics - Structure of the Universe
  • PHYS 224 Fluids and Heat
  • PHYS 320 Astrophysics - Origin of Elements
  • ASTR 120 Astronomy of the Solar System
  • ASTR 122 Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies
  • PHYS 498 Independent Research

Current Research involving undergraduate students:

  • Cosmic ray detection using liquid scintillator, wave shifting fiber, and a silicon photo-multiplier
  • Astroimaging using a SBIG ST-8300 CCD camera mounted on a Meade LX200-ACF

Selected Publications / Presentations / Conference Papers

  • Aaquist, O.B., & Lebel, T. (2012, June 6). FUndamenTal Undergraduate Research in Alberta. Paper presented at the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) General Assembly, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Aaquist, O.B., & Lebel, T. (2012, July). Cosmic Rays: Earth's smallest extraterrestrials. Paper presented at the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada AGM, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Aaquist, O.B., & McCarthy, S. (2013, February 15). A Low Cost Cosmic Ray Detector. Paper presented at the Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Showcase, MacEwan University, Edmonton, AB.

Awards / Grants / Fellowships

  • Faculty of Arts and Science Research Fund (December 2011)
  • MacEwan Research, Scholarly Activity and Creative Achievement Fund (October 2011)
  • MacEwan Student Research Initiative: Tristan Lebel (February 2011)

Professional Associations / Memberships

  • Canadian Astronomical Society
  • Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

Related Articles