Queen’s and partner institutions launch national research institute
May 10, 2018
Queen’s University is cementing its reputation as a world leader in astroparticle physics with the official launch of a new national research network dedicated to understanding some of the universe’s deepest mysteries.
The new Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute is a partnership of eight universities and five affiliated research organizations. Headquartered at Queen’s, the institute came to fruition as a result of the $63.7 million investment the university received in 2016 from the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund.
“The launch of this new institute represents a major step forward for our efforts to create a world-leading astroparticle physics research network, building on an area of research expertise for the university and Canada” says Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “We are also honoured today to be naming this new institute after one of Canada’s most accomplished and celebrated researchers, Nobel Laureate and Queen’s emeritus professor Dr. Arthur B. McDonald.”
Over the past year and a half, the institute has been building momentum, appointing a scientific director and recruiting 13 new faculty members (out of 15 designated positions) from around the world. In total, 100 people, including faculty, staff, and students across the country will be members of the institute, all working to advance its research and outreach goals.
“This new institute will bring together unique expertise from across Canada and leverages over $255 million of federal investment, with matching amounts from provincial partners, supporting astroparticle physics research over the last 20 years, including the leading experiments at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and the SNOLAB,” says Tony Noble, Scientific Director of the McDonald Institute. “Although the dimensions of the particles we are studying are minute, the implications of these discoveries are monumental and fundamental to the very properties of science and our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe.”
In addition to advancing research into areas such as the mysteries surrounding dark matter and neutrino science, the institute has a mandate for scientific outreach and to develop unique undergraduate and graduate student programing and opportunities.
“The McDonald Institute’s extensive research community and availability of funding for undergraduate and graduate students means that students will be able to contribute to the astroparticle physics community and the larger physics community as a whole,” says Liz Fletcher, master’s student, McDonald Institute. “By fostering of an amazing research environment across all of the McDonald Institute partner institutions, there will be an increase in opportunities for students to get involved, especially at the undergrad level, from summer positions to thesis and independent study projects.”
"Although the dimensions of the particles we are studying are minute, the implications of these discoveries are monumental and fundamental to the very properties of science and our understanding of the formation and evolution of the universe."
Along with the official launch and naming, the McDonald Institute also unveiled a new Visitor Centre located in Stirling Hall at Queen’s along with a new website. The Visitor Centre will feature a virtual reality setup that will allow guests to travel though space and experience a solar storm. The centre will also have an augmented reality sandbox that will teach guests about gravitational fields in an interactive and tactile manner.
Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute
“Centres like the McDonald Institute Visitor Centre can help us better understand the world and learn how scientists like Dr. McDonald and his colleagues are working to bring light to a dark universe and discover answers to its many mysteries,” says Dean Barbara Crow. “What is so great about this space is that it makes complex scientific problems and research accessible and understandable for community members, teachers, and students of all ages who are interested in learning more about how the universe works.”
"With SNOLAB, Canada has become an international centre for the experimental elements of astroparticle physics. Our new Institute adds to that strong international capability through the development of a strong personnel component within Canada – it has created a new generation of researchers in this field.
Additionally, the Institute creates an intellectual centre for interaction between theorists and experimentalists on topics at the cutting edge of particle astrophysics. This is already resulting in a number of experiments at the forefront of topics that will help us to understand the world around us and how it has evolved.
With the Institute, I am convinced that this will continue and keep Canada and Queen’s as a leader in this area of research."Dr. Arthur B. McDonald