New College alumnus Richard Bond (1973)

Dr. Bond started his career at the University of Toronto where he got a degree in mathematics and physics in 1973. He moved to California and studied at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), getting a master’s degree in theoretical physics in 1975 and then a doctorate in 1979. He returned to Toronto in 1985, where he has since helped establish Canada as a world centre for cosmology. He is the current Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s (CIAR’s) Cosmology & Gravity Program, and helped found the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA). In recognition of these achievements, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in September 2005.      

Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

This was my answer to a Grade 6 student query asking much the same: I wanted to be a writer but felt you had to go to the edge of what people knew first before you could write anything, and that meant the physics (and mathematics) of the Universe. I guess I have never gotten out of that learning phase, the questions we ask and sometimes answer are profound and grand, and our thinking about what it means continues to drive me; and I do write about it, but in scientific papers.

What was New College like when you came?

I commuted, then lived up the street, so it was cafeteria and the innovative math tutoring that I remember most, staffed by students who could deal with the hard questions as well as the easier ones.

How did your academic and social experience at the University/College prepare you for life and your career?

Learning physics is like going up a ladder, and the four UofT years were the enjoyable rungs between high school and grad school.

What was important to you then – what is important now? 

Understanding the Universe, with its accompanying intellectual and social joys, then and now.

What are your major accomplishments and who had the most influence on your Career? 

We are in the Golden Age of Cosmology and I have helped to develop the tale. Although I got to develop myself as a graduate student, the biggest influence was my PhD Supervisor at Caltech, Nobel Laureate Willy Fowler, a remarkable Being in all senses of the word.

In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?

Continuing the quest for meaning in all senses of the word.

Do you have any final comments?

Nothing is ever final. Works in progress.