Ting Li (李婷)

Assistant Professor
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
University of Toronto
50 St George Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3H4

Office: +1-416-946-7291

Email: ting.li@astro.utoronto.ca

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and an Associated Faculty Member of the Dunlap Institute, at the University of Toronto (UofT).

Before joining the University of Toronto in 2021, I was the 2019 NASA Hubble Fellowship Program Einstein Fellow at Carnegie Observatories, with a joint appointment in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University as a Carnegie-Princeton Fellow. I was a Leon Lederman Fellow at the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics during 2016-2019. I earned my PhD at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Texas A&M University. I received the Eramus Mundus Scholarship for a Joint European Master in Space Science and Technology (SpaceMaster), during which I stayed in Germany, Sweden, France and Japan for 6 months each. I completed my undergraduate at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, with a major in Physics and a minor in Diplomacy.

My research focuses on near-field cosmology. In particular, I study stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and nearby galaxies to understand how they form and to understand the nature of dark matter. I position myself as a traditional observational astrophysicist immersed in modern sky surveys with petabytes of data, using deep targeted follow-up astronomical observations to leverage the exploration of large-scale cosmic survey data. So far, I have spent over 300 nights on various optical telescopes all over the world.

I have been involved in many large-area sky surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES), Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Survey. I was the chair of the DES Milky Way Working Group in 2018-2021. I am currently the chair of the DESI Milky Way Survey Working Group. Furthermore, I am the founder and leader of the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey, or S5, a survey to map streams of stars in the sky visible from the southern hemisphere to determine the mass profile of the Milky Way. I am also the Dark Matter Working Group co-chairs of the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer, a 11.25-meter telescope facility dedicated to the next generation spectroscopic surveys.

Apart from the science interest, I am also an instrument builder. During my postdoc, I was actively involved in the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Survey. In particular, I am building the focus and alignment system for DESI, which is an essential component for the survey commissioning and operation. In my graduate school, I worked in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab, where I helped design and built the auxiliary calibration systems, namely aTmCam and DECal, for DES, which are used to improve the precision of the photometric calibration to better than 1%. I have also worked on a few other instrumentation projects, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope and the HETDEX project, etc.

For Students

If you are interested in learning more about my research field in dwarf galaxies, here are some good articles for beginners: Dwarf galaxies yesterday, now and tomorrow (by Denija Crnojević and Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil), Illuminating the Darkest Galaxies (Joshua Simon and Marla Geha). I also highly recommend this article by Hogg, Bovy & Lang on how to "fitting a model to data".

In addition, you may want to watch the following talks I've given recently: Colloquium at UofT Physics Department From Telescopes to Dark Matter & Black Holes, Seminar at Texas A&M University Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey (S5): Overview and Latest Science Results. I also recently gave a talk at AAS's DDA Community seminar. The first half is a science talk and the second half is is on the topic of barriers for international students studying in the U.S. You are welcome to watch it here.

I have several research projects suitable for undergrad and/or beginning graduate students at UofT, either through Supervised Courses or Summer Programs at UofT. Feel free to send me an email if you are interested in. I am always happy to talk to the students if there is anything you wish to discuss or chat about, e.g. research, teaching, career development, etc. Feel free to either shoot me an email, or message me on the UofT Astro Slack.

For Postdocs

There are lots of felowship programs at UofT, including Dunlap, CITA, Banting, Arts&Science, Provost and NSERC (Canadian citizen or PR only) Fellowships. Except for Dunlap and CITA fellowship, other fellowships requires sponsorship. Feel free to reach out to me if you are interseted in any of the fellowships.

More about me

Recent Travel Schedule

Curriculum Vita (Latest Update: Feb 1, 2024)

Publication on ADS and Google Scholar
(Ting Li is really the most common name in China, so it's really a pain to find my own papers. I therefore decided to go with T. S. Li or Ting S. Li from 2015. )

Languages spoken: Chinese, Japanese, English

Media Press Coverage

01/2022: Map of dozen streams: Twelve for dinner: The Milky Way’s feeding habits shine a light on dark matter, published by ApJ, featured in APS, SYFY Wire, The Globe and Mail, Sky & Telescope, inverse, c|net and more. The images/videos are available here.

07/2020: Phoenix Stream: The ancient stars that time forgot, published by Nature, featured in Nature, ABC, c|net, Space Australia, The Register, Vice and more. The images/videos are available here.

11/2019: S5-HVS1: Discovery of 1700 km/s star from Galactic center, covered by NYTimes, CBSNews, Independent, Forbes, Guardian, Newsweek, ABC, etc. The images/videos are available here.

04/04/2019: 2019 recipient of the NASA Hubble Fellowship (short bio)

03/16/2016: 2016 recipient of the Fermilab's Lederman Fellowship

04/17/2015: Fermilab Today: The first confirmed dwarf galaxy in DES.

03/23/2015: An interview of me by College of Science at Texas A&M.

01/06/2015: Fermilab Today: One of the best Supernova nights in DES while I was the run manager.

10/31/2014: An aTmCam story featured on PHYS.ORG