Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Research Scientist

Competition Number: J0817-0328
Posted On: August 22, 2017
Status: Closed

About Queen's University

Queen’s University is the Canadian research intensive university with a transformative student learning experience. Here the employment experience is as diverse as it is interesting. We have opportunities in multiple areas of globally recognized research, faculty administration, engineering & construction, athletics & recreation, power generation, corporate shared services, and many more.

We are committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcome applications from individuals from equity seeking groups such as women, racialized/visible minorities, Indigenous/Aboriginal peoples, persons with a disability, persons who identify in the LGBTQ+ community and others who reflect the diversity of Canadian society.

Come work with us!

Job Summary

The SNOLAB group, which is the largest research group within the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, is comprised of faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and assistants, and other technical staff who perform research projects in-house and at SNOLAB (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory LAB). 

Reporting to the Principal Investigator, the Research Scientist is an integral part of a subgroup of the SNOLAB team focused on the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS), “the project.” The Research Scientist will oversee the operation of the Cryogenic Underground Test Facility (CUTE) at SNOLAB which will facilitate the testing, validation and potentially scientific exploitation of next-generation cryogenic detectors with a total mass of up to approximately 10 kg.  

Duties are carried out in both surface and underground facilities. Visits to SNOLAB will be required in order for the Research Scientist to operate the facility and participate in data taking and analysis. The Research Scientist will be expected to become a full member of the Super CDMS collaboration. 

The schedule for this position requires the Research Scientist to work non-traditional hours of work, including some evenings and weekends, and irregular hours during peak periods. Travel, on occasion within Canada, and abroad may be required.

Job Description

Key Responsibilities

  • Provide high-level expertise and strategic direction in the operation of the Cryogenic Underground Test Facility (CUTE) at SNOLAB, running at 20 mK for testing Germanium and CaWO4 cryogenics detectors built by the SuperCDMS (US and Canada) and EURECA (8 European countries) collaborations.
  • Lead in the planning, development, implementation and management of the project installation plans and the commissioning phase of CUTE. This will include installation of cryogenics, background estimates and detector noise sensitivity. Provide oversight of the project schedule, timelines, budget and milestones including the coordination of preparations for the operational phase of CUTE with the expectation that the facility will be operational by the end of 2017.
  • Monitor all aspects of the CUTE operation. This will include the provision of technical guidance to staff as well as the management of resources and facilities in support of operational goals and in consultation with the Director.
  • Provide regular updates and reports on the progress of the operational phase of the CUTE facility. Proactively identify any issues arising in relation to project status, budget and resource allocation or the achievement of overall project results.
  • Maintain and operate collaborative cryogenic infrastructure and related equipment.
  • Set up a prototype of tower of cryogenic detectors to be tested in the cryostat at SNOLAB.
  • Create and execute a testing and measurement program for CUTE.
  • Identify the limiting factors of the facility. Identify and implement plans for improvement.
  • Manage quality assurance. Responsible for the application of the Quality Assurance Plan (documentation, training, non-conformance reporting).
  • Foster collaboration with international researchers, students and engineers at multiple Universities, Research Institutes, National Laboratories and Companies. Work co-operatively and closely with University faculty to promote collaboration and awareness of issues as required. Identify areas of concern within the organization and relay to the Principal Investigator.
  • Evaluate and interpret policy and plan procedures. Suggest modifications as required and oversee implementation of changes. Adapt processes and services to respond to changes in technology and to increase efficiency and meet unit objectives. Design and implement goal-oriented administrative systems.
  • Guide, train and mentor collaborating scientists, technicians, staff members, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and students in the performance of the research, the construction of the set-up components, and the operation of the infrastructure in specific area of responsibility. Schedules and assigns work, and oversees its completion. Coordinates and monitors work flow.
  • Proactively manage health and safety requirements and take immediate action to stop work, make safe, and correct any action that violates approved operating procedures or poses risk to either safety of personnel or damage to equipment.
  • Create and execute work plans, identifying required resources and assigning duties/tasks to team members. Review and monitor the progress of project activities on a regular basis. Leads regular status meetings with the Principal Investigator and/or teams.
  • Participate in the Research and Development Program, data analysis and scientific exploitation of the facility.
  • Write scientific publications, documenting all research activities, generating internal notes and assisting in the preparation of research proposals by other researchers.
  • Act as an advocate for the project and participate in design reviews, safety reviews and stakeholder review, preparing written report submissions and delivering presentations. 

Required Qualifications

  • PhD in physics, preferably in solid state, nuclear physics or astroparticle physics.
  • Several years of experience in low-temperature physics, preferably with a dilution refrigerator.
  • Practical knowledge of high sensitivity electronics.
  • Experience in the implementation of large scale technical projects.
  • Strong record of publications in peer reviewed journals.
  • Bilingual in French and English considered to be an asset.
  • Previous operations and supervisory experience considered an asset.
  • Consideration may be given to an equivalent combination of education and experience.

Special Skills

  • Effective leadership skills for management of technical and scientific projects.
  • Excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills are needed for interacting with faculty members, research scientists, engineers, postdoctoral fellows, students, and technical staff from various universities, research institutes and companies, in an international environment.
  • Project Planning and the ability to coordinate group activities with other groups’ research activities at partner institutions and underground at SNOLAB.
  • Respects diversity and promotes inclusion in the workplace.
  • Strong results orientation with an ability to take initiative and work with minimal supervision in a demanding, time-sensitive environment.
  • Strong problem-solving and negotiation skills with the ability to influence others.
  • Effective analytical skills with the ability to see implications and provide consultative solutions and recommendations.
  • Ability to understand and apply financial information and to monitor an established project budget.
  • Sound technical and scientific writing skills.
  • Effective oral presentation skills with the ability to adjust style/presentation for the audience.
  • Collaboration and mentoring skills.

Decision Making

  • Exercises judgment on when to involve Principal Investigator on issues that require decisions, or to make decisions and take independent action, ensuring required background information is collected and available.
  • Make recommendations to the Principal Investigator and determine how best to implement plans pertaining to the strategic direction and operation of the Cryogenic Underground Test Facility (CUTE) in coordination with stakeholders at Queen’s University and SNOLAB.
  • Provide recommendations on the design of the cryogenic system, including components required, resources needed and project plans.
  • Determine budget allocation within a pre-determined budgetary framework.
  • Determine operational policies and procedures and identify corrective action as required. Decide on the best approach for implementation of project plans and initiatives.
  • Proactively assess risks and determine safe and effective operating procedures. Determine when work poses risks to either safety of personnel or damage to equipment.
  • Determine resource allocation and facility management methodology in support of operational goals and consultation with the Principal Investigator.
  • Monitor resource expenditures, making decisions concerning the cryogenic infrastructure and related equipment purchases.
  • Determine and seek out potential collaborators at the international, national and local level.
  • Identify skill gaps and determine appropriate development required for technical staff, researchers and students.
  • Make recommendations to the Principal Investigator concerning technical and human resources. Evaluate job candidates and make recommendations on suitable hires.
  • Decide on appropriate training or coaching to address lack of proficiency in carrying out responsibilities, or remedial action for staff disciplinary situations.
  • Determine content of scientific publications and research proposals.

Closing Statement

The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen’s is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal Peoples, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity. In accordance with Canadian Immigration requirements, priority will be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

The University provides support in its recruitment processes to applicants with disabilities, including accommodation that takes into account an applicant's accessibility needs. Candidates requiring accommodation during the recruitment process are asked to contact Human Resources at

To apply please go to Human Resources for the Research Scientist position. Click on I am Interested button at the bottom of the web page.