Kelly Lepo

McGill Space Institute Coordinator
3550 University St, Room 106
Montreal, QC H3A 2A7 Canada

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Aug 2008 – June 2015 PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
A search for supernova type Ia progenitors in the Magellanic Clouds
Advisor: Marten van Kerkwijk
Sept 2003 – June 2007 B.A. with honors in Physics, with a concentration in Astrophysics
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Professional Experience

May 2015 – Present Coordinator
McGill Space Institute, McGill University
Coordinated education and outreach efforts of the McGill Space Institute,
facilitated interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers
Aug 2014 – May 2015 Lecturer
Department of Physics, Gonzaga University
Aug 2008 – Aug 2014 Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Advisor: Marten van Kerkwijk
Dec 2012 – Dec 2013 Research Assistant – Planetarium Education Research Project
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Advisor: Michael Reid
June 2007 – June 2008 Technician
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
Large Hadron Collider (LHC), ATLAS detector

Advisor: Jim Pilcher, University of Chicago
Sept 2005 – June 2007 Research Assistant
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
Advisor: Bruce Winstein

Teaching Experience

2014- 2015 Instructor, General Physics I, Scientific Physics I (PHYS101, PHSY103)
Gonzaga University
Algebra and calculus-based first-semester mechanics courses
2013 Instructor
West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers, Abuja, Nigeria
Week-long summer school in Astronomy for West African undergraduate science students.
2013 – 2014 Teaching Assistant, The End of the World as We Know It (BIG100),
University of Toronto
A multidisciplinary first-year course on the idea of “Apocalypse,” taught by faculty from the Astronomy, Sociology and English Literature Departments.
Fall 2008,
Fall 2010,
Fall 2011
Teaching Assistant, The Sun and Its Neighbours (AST101)
University of Toronto
A large (~1300 student) introductory astronomy class for humanities majors.
Spring 2011, Summer 2011,
Spring 2012, Summer 2013
Teaching Assistant, Stars and Galaxies (AST201)
University of Toronto
A large (~1300 student) introductory astronomy class for humanities majors.
Spring 2012, Spring 2011, Spring 2010 Teaching Assistant, Life on Other Worlds (AST251)
University of Toronto
Astrobiology course for science majors
Fall 2009 Teaching Assistant, Great Moments in Astronomy (AST210)
University of Toronto
Introductory astronomy course for science students
Spring 2009 Teaching Assistant, Stars and Galaxies (AST201)
University of Toronto Mississauga


Mentoring Experience

2016 – Present Organiser, McGill Space Institute Summer Student Programme

Developed and led a program of professional development and science communication workshops for undergraduate summer research students.

Summer 2016 Mentor and Admin, Google Summer of Code, McGill Space Institute

Google-sponsored programme for undergraduate students for open source software development projects

Fall 2013 – Summer 2014 Fourth Year Undergraduate Research Project

Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto Student: Nick Fantin

Spring 2012 Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators Professional Development Program, UC Santa Cruz

Developed an inquiry activity for summer undergraduate research students, teaching research skills to help students with their summer research projects.


Public Outreach

Jan 2017 – Present Master of Ceremonies / Game Master, Astronomy on Tap MTL

Short accessible, presentations given in local bars

July 2016 – Present Organiser, AstroMcGill Public AstroNight

Free public talks given by a professional astronomer, usually a McGill student or professor, aimed at a broad audience.

August 2017 Organiser, Solar Eclipse Watch MTL, Public partial solar eclipse viewing event (~10,000 people)

McGill University, Lower Field

August 2017 Speaker, Everything You Need to Know About the Great North American Solar Eclipse, Public talk (~300 people)

AstroMcGill Public AstroNight

July 2017 Speaker, No, Planet Nibiru will not kill us all, Public talk (~100 people)

Astronomy on Tap MTL

May 2017 Speaker, Tycho, Zwicky and Exploding stars: What Supernovas taught us about the Universe, Public talk (~20 people)

Pint of Science

Part of an international science outreach festival, held in bars

May 2016,
June 2017
Activity designer and volunteer, McGill Teacher Inquiry Institute

Led primary school teachers through McGill-designed, hands-on, inquiry-based lesson plans to use in their classrooms. 2016: phases of the Moon. 2017: seasons.

April 2016 Speaker, Comets: From Harbingers of Doom to the Scientific Revolution, Public talk (~300 people)

AstroMcGill Public AstroNight

2016 – 2017 Classroom volunteer and designer, McGill Space Explorers Programme

International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development-funded programme to send astronomers to grade 4-6 students in underprivileged areas

Aug 2015 Speaker, Pluto Palooza, Public talk (~500 people)

AstroMcGill Public AstroNight
Celebrating the New Horizons flyby of Pluto

March 2014 Speaker, The Harvard Computers: Women who catalogued the stars and helped us understand the Universe, Public talk (~200 people)

University of Toronto Astro Tours

Feb 2014 Speaker, The AstroTour Supernova Extravaganza, Public Panel Discussion, (~300 people)

University of Toronto Astro Tours

Dec 2013 Speaker, Comets: Icy Visitors, Public talk (~200 people)

University of Toronto Astro Tours

July 2013 Presenter, Welcome to the neighborhood: the nearest stars to the Sun, Planetarium Show (~80 people)

University of Toronto Astro Tours

Dec 2012 Speaker, 2012: From Garbled Science to Death from the Skies!, Public Talk (~400 people)

University of Toronto Astro Tours
The astronomy behind 2012 Mayan apocalypse theories, including the solar cycle, the Earth’s magnetic field and the black hole at the center of the milky way.

Oct 2012 Speaker, 2012: From Garbled Science to Death from the Skies!

Science Teachers Association of Ontario, invited speaker

Fall 2012 Speaker, Small stars, big explosions and vast distances: Using supernovae to understand the Universe, Public Talk (2 branches, ~20 people per talk)

Toronto public library

Fall 2011 Speaker, 2012: From Garbled Science to Death from the Skies!

Toronto public library (8 branches, ~20 people per talk)

Media Appearances

Nov. 2017 Newly Discovered Plant Ross 128b: The closest temperate planet to Earth, CJAD 800 – The Natasha Hall Show, Radio
Oct. 2017 Asteroid 2012 TC4 flies by of Earth, CJAD 800 -The Natasha Hall Show, Radio
Aug. 2017 On the 2017 Partial Solar Eclipse
Print: Montreal Gazette, McGill Reporter
Television: Global News (National), CTV News, CBC News
Radio: CJAD 800 – The Natasha Hall Show, CBC Radio Noon Montreal, CBC Daybreak Radio
April 2017 NASA captures images of large asteroid set to fly by Earth, CJAD 800 – The Natasha Hall Show, Radio
Nov. 2016 Supermoon not so super after all, CBC News Montreal, Television
Aug. 2016 Perseid meteor shower, CBC Daybreak Montreal, Radio
Dec. 2015 Geminid meteor shower: How to catch the cosmic light show, CBC Daybreak Montreal, Radio
Sept. 2015 Super Blood Moon (Lunar Eclipse), CBC Daybreak Montreal, Radio
July 2015 The discovery of Kepler 452b — an Earthlike planet around a Sun-like Star, CBC Daybreak Montreal, Radio
June 2015 The Science Behind the Leap Second, CBC News Montreal, Television
Feb. 2014 InnerSpace
an entertainment talk show on the Canadian Space network
Dec. 2012 On the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse
Print: UofT News, Toronto Star, The Grid TO
Television: CBC News Toronto, Global TV Toronto, Omni News, Al Jazeera English
Radio: Newstalk 1010 Toronto, Newstalk 1290 London, Ontario

Professional Service

2017 – Present Member, Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) Outreach committee
2016 – Present Chair, AstroMcGill Steering Committee
2016- Present Organiser, McGill Space Institute Lunch talk series
Two informal, internal presentations by MSI members on their research, given every other week
2015 – Present Chair, McGill Space Institute Seminar Committee
2015 – Present Organiser, McGill Space Institute Education, Public Outreach and Diversity Discussion
Weekly discussion group on a variety of topics related to Diversity and Inclusion, education research and improving public outreach
Nov. 2016 Member, Organizing committee, Frontiers: Cosmos, Curiosity, Creativity – Centre for Research on Religion (CREOR) 2016 conference
An interdisciplinary conference with McGill’s School of Religious Studies on how cosmologies inform culture and vice versa
2011-2012 President, Graduate Astronomy Students Association (GASA)
University of Toronto
Referee, Nature


2014 Fieldus Award
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto
Awarded to one graduate student per year for excellence in leadership, teaching and research.


Increasing Engagement and Understanding Using Interactive Planetarium Shows, Reid, M., Williams, M., Percy, J., Hoeg, D., Lepo, K., Nazir, J., & Paciga, G. (2014). The Role of New Planetariums in Promoting Engagement and Learning. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.
A search for rapidly accreting white dwarfs in the Small Magellanic Cloud, K. Lepo, M.H. van Kerkwijk, 2013, ApJ, 771, 13
Ultra-soft sources as supernova type Ia progenitors, K. Lepo, M.H. van Kerkwijk, Proceedings of IAU Symp. 281, Binary Paths to Type Ia Supernovae Explosions, 2011, arXiv: 109.4394


Language English: Native Speaker
French: Intermediate
Spanish: Intermediate
Astronomy Experience working with spectroscopic and photometric data at X-ray, UV, optical and IR wavelengths. Used astronomical pipelines to reduce data. Spectroscopically classified about 1000 stars by eye and identified emission and absorption lines in their spectra.
Programming Languages Familiar with Unix and Linux based operating systems, Python, Fortran, C++, IDL, HTM and Mathematica. Wrote original code and modified existing software.
Graphic Design Designed posters, reports, and websites, using the Adobe Suite, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.
Social Media Currently manage Twitter and Facebook accounts for: The McGill Space Institute, AstroMcGill, the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA)
Communication Strong science communication skills, experience with education and public outreach efforts, using astronomy in international development efforts, discussing scientific results with television, radio and print media.