Montreal: A portal to the universe


“The search for life and our identities as humans is very important. I think it inspires just about everyone on Earth,” says Marie-Ève Desrochers, a master’s student in the Department of Physics at Université de Montréal and at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx).

Indeed, we are all greatly fascinated by the infinitely small and infinitely big. Changing our scale lets us see the universe in a new way and advance our knowledge of the cosmos and ourselves. Montreal is an increasingly important hub for understanding our planet, what happens on it, and the entire universe that surrounds it.

“The search for extraterrestrial life and the study of exoplanets are rapidly expanding, and Montreal is positioning itself as an international hub for research in this field,” says René Doyon, a professor in the Department of Physics at Université de Montréal and Director of iREx.

Many projects at Campus Montréal study humans’ role in the universe, and from the perspective of our geopolitical context. In addition to iREx, which focuses on the robotic exploration of our solar system and the construction of powerful astronomy observatories, the research community at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CÉRIUM) is developing advanced knowledge on international issues.

Understanding humans and our universe helps our society move forward, and Campus Montréal helps us know ourselves on the micro and macro levels.


  • Combine basic research and philosophy.
  • Define humanity’s place in the universe to create a different relationship with our world.
  • Create advanced tools, such as the infrared spectropolarimeter, which detects Earth-like planets.
  • Stimulate young people’s interest in science.
  • Develop scientific culture and the desire to push knowledge.
  • Encourage collaboration and team work.

Strong ties around the planet

Many of our projects aim to open Campus Montréal to the world and forge ties with students from different countries.
This is the goal of the China-Canada Fund for Bin Zhang-Niu Gensheng Scholarships, which allow students at Université de Montréal to study in China, and the scholarships of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which let graduate students from Greece come study at Université de Montréal.

Donations that open the door to the world

Philanthropists have a talent for investing in projects that explore what is happening around the world so that we can better understand what is happening at home. They open doors to let students push their boundaries.

“In exoplanet research, as in all sciences, technological advancements are important. I’ve helped fund developments in telescopes, instruments and computers,” explains Lorne M. Trottier, a philanthropist and the Co-Founder of Matrox.

The Trottier Family Foundation donated $1 million to help iREx researchers find life out in the universe.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Chinese businessmen Bin Zhang and Niu Gensheng each gave $1 million to Université de Montréal to foster international student exchanges.

Exponential potential

“iREx is growing rapidly,” explains Marie-Ève Desrochers. “When we began 2 years ago, there were barely 15 of us. Now there are over 50! iREx has succeeded in attracting researchers and professors from around the world.”

By drawing from different fields, iREx, CÉRIUM and our scholarships move our projects into the future. This is a comprehensive and complex process that involves and nourishes our collective “we.” Because to understand humans, we must better grasp our own humanity.

Other impact stories