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Queen's names newest Canada Excellence Research Chair

  • Steven Liss (VP, Research) speaks at the announcement.
  • Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder officially pins Gilles Gerbier.
  • Master's student Ben Broerman chats with Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder.
  • Gilles Gerbier (l) walks with Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder and Steven Liss (VP, Research).
  • Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder speaks at Friday's announcement.
  • Principal Daniel Woolf addresses the audience at the announcement.
  • Gilles Gerbier speaks at the announcement after being welcomed as a new CERC.
  • Steven Liss (VP, Research) hands Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder the CERC pin while Gilles Gerbier looks on.
  • Steven Liss (VP, Research) speaks at the luncheon.

Gilles Gerbier has joined Queen’s University as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics. Dr. Gerbier is working both in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and at SNOLAB in Sudbury, researching the mysteries surrounding dark matter.

“I’m very excited to work at SNOLAB,” says Dr. Gerbier. “It is a unique site — one of the world’s premier underground research laboratories — and it is operated as a clean room. The technicians, engineers and scientists working there are highly skilled, and the resources, availability and equipment are second-to-none. Once I found out that the CERC funding was in place for the chair at Queen’s, moving to Canada was a straightforward decision to make.”

The goals of Dr. Gerbier’s research include strengthening the Canadian presence in a joint North-American/European SNOLAB project to search for low-mass dark matter particles and facilitating the sharing and transfer of expertise and knowledge between European and Canadian researchers.

“Queen’s University is a natural home for Dr. Gerbier given our strength in this area,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “He is not only a perfect match for the university’s research interests, he is an exceptional leader and mentor, and will be a catalyst for future international collaborations.”

Dr. Gerbier is a graduate of the École Centrale Paris, and in 1983, he obtained his PhD from the Université Paris XI for work on neutrino interactions in bubble chambers. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, he became a founding member and team leader of the Beijing-Paris-Rome-Saclay Collaboration, producing seminal work on the characterization of scintillators for dark matter searches.

A shot in the dark worth taking
Read the official Queen's news release, the Q&A with Dr. Gerbier and the official government release

 In 2005, he became the team leader of the EDELWEISS experiment and in 2010 of the EURECA European collaboration, dedicated to the direct detection of dark matter particles with bolometric detectors located at the Modane Underground Laboratory (LSM) in France.

 “Attracting one of the world’s leading researchers in particle astrophysics to Queen’s will have tremendous benefits for not only our scholarly community, but for all Canadians,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Dr. Gerbier’s research into the mysteries of dark matter will deepen our understanding of the vast complexities of our universe. His work with colleagues at SNOLAB will strengthen our research ties with scholars worldwide and secure the reputation of Queen’s and Canada as leaders in the field.”

Dr. Gerbier is also a major contributor to the astroparticle community. He has served as director of the LSM, project manager of the large European Network: Integrated Large Infrastructures for Astroparticle Science, and co-ordinator of the France-China Underground Lab network.