The Team

Host: Justin Trottier

Justin is a passionate proponent of science education, especially in the fields of astronomy and space exploration. He founded the University of Toronto Astronomy & Space Exploration Society and was its first President for 3 years. He then joined the Board of Directors of the Canadian Space Society where he has served as External Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Space Gazette. Justin received an Engineering degree from the University of Toronto. He then went on to found a national educational charity called the Centre for Inquiry, which advances critical thinking and scientific literacy. Justin speaks regularly in the media in defense of fundamental freedoms like free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of inquiry and participates in debates and dialogue which bring together groups from vastly differing backgrounds and perspectives, exploring issues in ethics, religion, and politics. Utilizing new media to engage youth, Justin hosts Think Again! TV, an independent media outlet that uses investigative journalism to explore human rights issues, and to serve as a watchdog for unfounded and dangerous claims.

Production: Yingxiang Li

Yingxiang is a space enthusiast with a keen interest in the scientific exploration of space and its potential colonization by humans. His other interests include cognitive science and neurobiology, and he is currently studying neuroscience at the University of Toronto.

denise2 News and Guest Host: Denise Fong

Denise is a poli-sci graduate of The University of Toronto. Her Dad shared stories with her about the mysteries of the Universe before she could even talk and she’s been fascinated by them all since. Now that she is also training to be a publicist she looks forward to more eminently voice her support on many important political and social causes. She has always loved cats. Listen to The Star Spot for her Current In Space news announcements and when she guest hosts on special The Star Spot interview segments.

Dave News Co-Producer: Dave Kirsh

Dave is a lecturer at Ryerson University, where he teaches introductory astronomy. He has a master’s in astrophysics from Queen’s University, where he studied the mechanics of early planetary systems, and he researched planet formation at McMaster University before deciding that teaching was his real passion. Science outreach is also important to him, and has led him to being a planetarium host, a presenter at schools, a science fair judge, and more. Before joining Star Spot he was an interviewer and commentator for another astronomy podcast, Western Worlds. He is excited to bring his enthusiasm for modern astronomy to Star Spot, and to you!

unnamed News Co-Producer: Anuj Rastogi

Anuj is a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Toronto where he uses neuroimaging and magnetic stimulation to explore brain dysfunction, in Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia for example. His interest in the brain (the inner universe) spawned from his fascination with astronomy (the outer universe) as they both match in complexity and mystery. Discovering the Cosmos series, hosted by his hero Carl Sagan (or “the Great One” as he likes to say), sparked a flame of curiosity and reverence for the stars and Anuj has never stopped looking up since. In his undergraduate days, he became increasingly obsessed with Astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth. He is very excited to be on the news team as a form of public science outreach to convey his passion for all things space. When he is not at the lab, you can find him reading aged books on consciousness, playing badminton, and writing poetry.

unnamed News Co-Producer: Tony Koshansky

Tony joined The Star Spot in late 2014 as a Space Science Journalist. He’s been in love with space and spaceships since he was a (very) young boy, incessantly watching science fiction TV series like Star Trek. But while in high school, he became enamored by space all over again upon discovering astronomy books at the school library, as well as noted figures in astronomy, two being Carl Sagan and Phil Plait, whose eloquent talks and writings inspired Tony to write about space. This ultimately led him here, where he’s been sharing his passion for the wonders of the Universe and our solar system through his news stories. One topic he loves reporting on is Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, which is thought to conceal an ocean of liquid water that’s possibly home to undersea life, which happens to be another fervent interest of Tony’s. When he’s not busy working a book-filing shift at his local library, or writing stories for The Star Spot, you can find him reading up on the latest science and space news, preparing (and eating) delicious homemade meals, and yes, watching science fiction TV series.

julia News: Julia Mazurchuk

Julia is a University of Toronto graduate with a B.Sc. in Psychology and Criminology. She also has a strong interest in journalism and has spent time volunteering for news networks and writing for school newspapers. Although interested in human behaviour and planning to pursue her Masters in Psychology next year, her interests are not solely confined to this planet. A self-proclaimed nerd, Julia has always been curious about astronomy, but claims she became absolutely hooked in a first year astrophysics seminar, taken on a whim. The mind-boggling challenges of space, the mysteries yet to be uncovered, and the sense of awe and humbleness that looking up at the night sky has been inspiring in every generation dating back to the Greeks, provides her with ample material to write about at her local Starbucks.

Jessica News: Jessica Campbell

Jessica is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Astronomy and Physics. Since starting her academic pursuit at Guelph University in Molecular Biology and Genetics, she quickly realized that astronomy was her true passion. She has since then dedicated most of her time to her studies in addition to assisting with outreach oppourtunities including the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society (ASX), the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics’ (DAA) Sidewalk Astronomy and their Public Tours and of course the Star Spot. Since working on her first research project, she quickly became hooked on stellar formation and hopes to apply this passion at the graduate level.

Mallory News: Mallory Warren

Mallory is a high school student attending Martingrove Collegiate Institute. She is looking to pursue a career somewhere in the field of journalism. Astronomy has always sparked her interest as well as other hobbies such as volleyball, photography and travelling.

Director of Advancement: Jack Xie

Albeit with a finance background, Jack is intrigued by the world of physics and in particular, space. He enjoys reading about the Andromeda galaxy, the only one you can see with the naked eye; stargazing into the diaphanous fabric of woven stars, and contemplating the ratios of ordinary, dark matter and dark energy within the observable universe of some 100 billion galaxies. When not perpetually fascinated by all things astronomy, Jack likes to solve puzzles of all kinds. His joie de vivre isn’t just in the details, it’s in the relentless curiosity of finding out how things work, and the fanatical obsession of figuring out how to make them better.

Sponsorship and Merchandising: Karmila Svilans

Introvert with a penchant for books, photography, the piano and science. Enjoys a severe case of the wanderlust; likes wearing jeans and would rather be outside. Works in media production; helps out however she can.

Logo and Web Design: Blair Renaud

The sense of awe provided by scientific truths of our reality was the catalyst for Blair’s interest in astronomy and cosmology. Looking out across the sea of space, knowing how much more there is to know, is not only humbling, but it also fills us with deep sense of yearning. The more we learn about the sheer size and complexity of the universe we live in, the more inspiration and wonder that we drawn from it. For this reason, Blair comes to new discoveries and old truths with the wide eyes of a child, eager to gain a deeper understanding of the cosmos around us, and -indeed a deeper understanding of ourselves.

The Star Spot also has a growing number of high school volunteers:
Shalini Shalini Prakash: Woburn C.I.
DSCN4008skin_edited_thumbnail Past Marketing and Outreach Director: Natalie Morcos

Natalie has always been concerned with the underpinnings of reality. One reading of Stephen Hawking’s The Illustrated Theory of Everything focused that curiosity on the nature of the universe and lead her to pursue a degree in physics and philosophy at the University of Toronto. She’s since changed paths, switching physics for computer science and communications but her enthusiasm for space, particularly black holes, remains. When she’s not staring at her computer screen, pondering big questions or reading up on black holes, you can probably find her on the slopes, lost in the crowd at a concert hall or in the kitchen cooking up something delicious.

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If you’d like to join our team, please visit out Contact page and drop us a line!

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