Renée Hložek honoured with 2021 McLean Award

Cosmologist Renée Hložek is this year’s winner of the prestigious McLean Award.

The award recognizes an emerging research leader at the University of Toronto.

Hložek is an assistant professor at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics in the Faculty of Arts & Science. She specializes in cosmology, and uses data to try and understand what the universe is made of, its structure, and how it is changing with time.

She says she is moved by the honour. “I spend so much of my time working on results, dreaming of new science, and often debugging code,” she says. “Normally that is its own reward, but it’s really incredible to be recognized for some of the work I’ve done and the scientific risks I’ve taken.”

Hložek works in the Simons Observatory collaboration, an international group of scientists building microwave telescopes in the Atacama desert of Northern Chile, in order to observe the afterglow of the Big Bang. She is also part of the Rubin Observatory’s Dark Energy Science Collaboration, which is gearing up to use the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to unravel the mysteries of cosmic acceleration.

One McLean award of $125,000 is granted annually by the University, to support an emerging researcher in the field of physics, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, engineering sciences, and the theory and methods of statistics. The award comes from the Connaught Fund — the largest internal university research funding program in Canada.

This is the first time the McLean award has been granted to a scholar in astronomy & astrophysics since 2011.