As an instructor with the University of Lethbridge’s physics department since 1981, David Naylor has taken his lab to the upper echelons of experimental astrophysics. Practically speaking, that means he designs and uses instruments that can measure incredibly small amounts of radiation and light. His primary project for the last four years has been the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE), a telescope on the Herschel Space Observatory, which was launched in 2009. The Herschel is winding down its mission as it runs out of liquid helium to cool its instruments, but its 25,000 hours of studying the universe have already led to 250 peer-reviewed articles, a better understanding of the galaxy and spin-off businesses in the Lethbridge area. Naylor himself was instrumental in establishing Blue Sky Spectroscopy, a private company that has won several contracts from the European and Canadian space agencies and delivered complex instrumentation to leading research teams across the planet. And the SPIRE’s legacy is still in its infancy. Astronomers will analyze the prolific telescope’s legacy of data for years to come.
David Naylor: Alberta's 50 Most Influential People 2013
Takeaway: David Naylor is a leader in experimental astrophysics.