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Michael Stewart Fieldus (1962–1992)

Published onSep 01, 1994
Michael Stewart Fieldus (1962–1992)

Michael Stewart Fieldus, a Ph.D. student in astronomy at the University of Toronto, died suddenly in Toronto on July 4, 1992. Born in Toronto, Ontario, on October 11, 1962, he was the son of Paul and Beryl Fieldus. He graduated from the University of Toronto, where he captained the swim team, which remained a passionate interest for the rest of his life. While in graduate school, he was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and three University of Toronto Open Fellowships. Shortly before he died, he was awarded one of the prestigious Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Mike had published three refereed papers, two conference reports and six abstracts at the time of his death. Two more papers and a conference report have been published posthumously, and several others are in preparation. His M.Sc. thesis, "A Program for Spherically Extended Line Blanketed Model Atmospheres," supervised by John Lester and Chris Rogers, was one of the pioneering works in its field.

He was within a couple of months of completing his Ph.D. thesis at the time of his death. Observations from this thesis, "A Survey of Line Profile Variations in B0-B5 111-V Stars without Emission Lines," define the blue edge and a lower limit for the high luminosity edge of the slowly pulsating B star instability strip. He was well-known in the international B star community. He was frequently invited to collaborate on other research projects, but had to limit this to avoid delaying completion of his thesis.

Mike worked as a teaching assistant for several courses. He was an excellent teacher who was noted for his accessibility and unintimidating manner. He was particularly effective in our second year observing laboratory course, where he developed some of the exercises and provided hands-on guidance to students learning to use the instruments.

Mike made numerous extracurricular contributions to the Department. He helped test and calibrate the new echelle spectrograph on the 1.88 m telescope at the David Dunlap Observatory. He gave many lectures to public and school groups and worked as a tour guide at the David Dunlap Observatory throughout his graduate career. He served one year as President of the Graduate Astronomy Students' Association and three years as their representative to department faculty meetings. He founded and ran the faculty-student Stellar Discussion Group and helped organize many social events that helped maintain the department's cohesiveness. Above all, he was a warm friend who was always available to help others.

Mike's family and friends have endowed an award to honor his memory. It will be awarded annually, when a suitable candidate is available, to a graduate student in our department who exemplifies Mike's superior performance in research, teaching, and service to the community.

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