Keith Vanderlinde

Telling the Story of the Universe

By day, he's exploring new realms in astronomy and astrophysics. By night, he's kayaking, snapping photos or diving into a good book.


Keith Vanderlinde is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics. We asked him everything from why he chose his field of study to what he does for fun in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
Not sure, it just sort of played out that way. I’ve tried not to worry too much about my path in life – just to do my best, tackle the interesting bits, and I guess that’s a path to science.

How will your research make a difference in our lives?
In the short term, only intellectually. I can tell you the story of the Universe from its first moments until today, but that’s not going to build a better mousetrap. This sort of research takes a long time to work its way through to real-world applications. In the past it’s been decades before we found a way to harness fundamental physics, but without fundamental research like this, we’d have no transistors to run our cell phones, nor know about the radio waves they use to communicate.

What’s on your playlist?
Heaps of podcasts, and quite a few audio books. I’m a fan of stories, and enjoy having people telling them to me.

What do you read?
I read less than I’d like. When I do, it’s fiction mostly, ranging from Sci-Fi to mysteries to historical works. It’s been a while sinc I’ve had time to really immerse myself in a good book, but given a nice long vacation I can happily spend 10-12 hours a day lost in a good story.

What do you like to do for fun?
It depends on the day. I like getting outside and into nature for long trips on my own steam: walking, hiking, cycling, climbing, or kayaking. I enjoy cooking. Once upon a time I was quite musical and I’m an amateur photographer. Deep down I’m a dork. I enjoy a good board game, video game, TV show or movie. I like making things, from computers to tree houses, and I like playing devil’s advocate in a good-natured argument. Oh, and I tremendously enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.