Assistant Professor, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Juan Mena-Parra is an assistant professor with the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
He is an observational cosmologist who develops novel instrumentation and analysis techniques for studying the origin, composition and evolution of the Universe.
Mena-Parra played a crucial role in the development of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a groundbreaking radio telescope designed to measure the large-scale structure of neutral hydrogen and probe the nature of dark energy.
Now that CHIME is performing the largest volume astronomical survey to date, one focus of his research is the development of calibration and data analysis techniques to characterize the instrument and separate the weak cosmic hydrogen signal from bright astrophysical foregrounds.
Mena-Parra’s technology innovations also enabled the use of CHIME to study the radio transient sky, including mysterious fast radio bursts (FRBs). Thanks to its unique design and powerful digital backend, CHIME has become the world's leading FRB detector, finding hundreds of FRBs each year.
Mena-Parra is now working on the construction of CHIME/FRB Outriggers, a continental network of specialized radio telescopes that will provide precise localizations for FRBs detected by CHIME. These localizations will provide unique information about the physical environments and emission mechanisms that generate FRBs and allow their use as new probes of cosmology.
CHIME/FRB Outriggers represents the first phase of the Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio-transient Detector (CHORD), a next-generation radio telescope array that will be an order of magnitude more powerful than CHIME and provide unprecedented observational capabilities for cosmology and radio transient science.
Before joining the Dunlap Institute in 2022, Mena-Parra was a Kavli Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. He received his PhD in Physics from McGill University in 2018.