Michel Fich received his Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in physics from the University of Waterloo in 1978. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1983 with a Ph.D. in astronomy. His work at Berkeley was primarily in the area of radio astronomy and involved observations with telescopes at both centimeter and millimeter wavelengths. A focus of this work was the use of radio interferometers to achieve the maximum spatial resolution possible. One of the major results that came out of this work was the measurement of the mass of the milky way galaxy and the distribution of that mass on the largest scales.
From 1983 to 1986 Dr. Fich was a research assistant professor in the astronomy department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Fich joined the physics department at the University of Waterloo in 1986 where he is currently an associate professor. The focus of his research has shifted to even shorter wavelengths since moving to Waterloo, as technology improvements have allowed the fabrication of radio receivers to work at ever higher frequencies. Recently the shortest wavelengths achievable have been in regions in which the earth’s atmosphere is opaque. To take advantage of the latest improvements in technology it has become necessary to place radio telescopes above the earth’s atmosphere: on space satellites. For this reason Dr. Fich is now involved in a number of projects, including a role in building instrumentation, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dr. Fich is currently the Canadian Lead co-investigator for the high-resolution spectrometer for the Herschel Space Observatory (planned for launch by ESA in Feb. 2007).
Dr. Fich’s research is in a number of areas related to the birth of stars. He studies the formation of stars, the properties of the interstellar medium out of which stars are born, and the large scale distribution of star formation in galaxies. Much of Dr. Fich’s recent work has been in the area of astrochemistry. He is also currently investigating how the star formation process drives the evolution of galaxies. While primarily an observation-based research program, these studies also involve some more theoretical treatments, especially in several collaborations with postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D. students.