Issue 22, June 16th, 2021


It's time again for our monthly report on news and events in the astroparticle physics community. Do you have some astroparticle physics news or would like to do a write-up on a recent result or publication? Get in touch and we'll make sure that the community gets to hear your story!

Be sure to check out the McDonald Institute HQP Community Discord. The group is open to anyone involved in the Canadian astroparticle physics community and provides a space to ask questions and have discussions about the various aspects of studying, working, and researching in the field. Access the discord here:

Upcoming McDonald Institute Census

The McDonald Institute is releasing a new census reporting tool to community members at the end of June for the 2020/2021 fiscal year through a secure online portal. The goal is to collect the required data for our funding agency, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) while reducing the time and burden of the reporting process.

We are asking all levels of staff and students who receive, or benefit from, McDonald Institute funding to complete the Census. For members of the broader community, your input is extremely important, and we ask that you also contribute, and encourage any HQP directly under your supervision to participate.

The Census will be used to establish baselines and trends that inform financial and programmatic resource allocation -- ultimately, guiding decision-making on how to best support and empower the Canadian astroparticle physics community.

Thank-you in advance for your participation in this crucial exercise!

Queen's University team participates in U.S.-based contest for Indigenous students
A group of Indigenous engineering students from Queen's University are the only team from Canada in a U.S. NASA-sponsored rocket launch competition for Indigenous students.

The NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium's First Nations Launch National High-Power Rocket Competition is a student challenge that provides First Nations students in the U.S. an opportunity to design, build and fly rockets.

excerpt from:
Jeff McCaw, Maranda Cherry and Eric Birchall and the rest of their team at Queens University have created a rocket for a U.S. competition for Indigenous students with no prior experience working with high-powered rockets. (Melanie Howard/Queens University)
Additional coverage:

Save the Date: Astroparticle Physics Community National Meeting Aug. 25-26
The McDonald Institute reminds career astroparticle physics researchers, fellows and students working in Canada that the Annual National Meeting for our community will be held online over two days. Day 1 sessions will expand on the Advanced Community Planning (Non-Accelerator, Subsurface) effort and Day 2 sessions will address broader issues of the community (trainee development, research sustainment, etc.). RSVPs and detailed agenda will be circulated by email and updated in the June newsletter.

IceCube searches for Solar Flare Neutrinos

Solar neutrinos can originate from multiple processes, including fusion in the core, and so far, have only been detected in the MeV range. Neutrinos from solar flares have yet to be detected and would provide a direct probe into proton acceleration.

It was released earlier this year that IceCube conducted the first search for neutrinos coincident with solar flares using data from Fermi-LAT.
Although this analysis did not detect any neutrinos from identified solar flares, this result enables an upper bound to be placed on the incident energy of solar flare neutrinos and their flux on Earth. The new low-energy selection developed for this search can also be used in other low-energy neutrino searches in IceCube, such as for neutrinos from compact binary mergers, fast-radio bursts, and novae.

Read more about this article and others on Astroparticle Physics News.

To celebrate pride month GEMINI-P is inviting you to a Physics Pride Event at 7-9 pm Friday, June 25th! 
The event will begin with a panel of 2SLGBTQ+ people (undergraduate student, graduate student, postdoc, faculty, and staff member) from ours and other physics departments. The panelists will talk about their experiences and answer your questions. The themes the panel will cover are: experiences in life, academia, STEM, and the physics department as a 2SLGBTQ+ person. 
After the panel, we will have a drag performance by the fabulous local drag queen Rowena Whey and social happy hour. Drag shows are entertaining events, common in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, we hope that this will give the opportunity to learn from and participate in this cultural experience. 
Bring out all the rainbows! We will also have a prize for the best pride outfit/decorations/Zoom background! 
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate! 
Register for the event here:  

Special "Nobel Trio" event during TEDxSaclay

Join us on June 24th at 9:30 am EDT for this special "Nobel Trio" panel discussion. The special event, which is part of the TEDxSaclay conference features Nobel Laureates Dr. Gérard Mourou, Dr. Donna Strickland, and Dr. Art McDonald. Queen's University Patrick Deane, along with Université Paris-Saclay President, Sylvie Retailleau will give the opening remarks to the panel, speaking about physics research as it relates to the TEDxSaclay theme "Terre, note vaissea". The panel will be co-moderated by our own Dr. Aaron Vincent.

The conference organizers have provided us with a discount code to share within the physics community. Please use code "NOB-RED" for a 50% reduction of the registration fee here:

Upcoming Sessions:

Supporting Academic Writing Success

Wednesday June 23, 2021 at 2:30pm EDT

In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to make progress on large writing projects like dissertations and theses without succumbing to stress or procrastination. Then, we’ll discuss tools and strategies that will help you elevate your grammar and style to the level expected by professional scientific readers, journal editors, and graduate supervisors.

Presenter: Dr. Ian Garner coordinates Student Academic Success Services’ (SASS’) outward-facing programs, working closely with professional staff and faculty to develop and deliver workshops and programs on academic and writing skills at all levels. After completing his undergraduate education in Russia and England, Ian completed a PhD at the University of Toronto and taught languages at school and university level. Ian has published translations and research in various journals and popular publications, and a book manuscript based on his doctoral work is due for release in 2022.

Project Management – Trello Edition

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at 2:30pm EDT –

As science gets bigger, career researchers increasingly look for efficient and straightforward project management methods. Good project managers use shareable and consistent schemes for planning, representing, implementing, and monitoring the progress of work at any scale — from a single student’s thesis project to an entire 200-member consortium’s effort to detect a WIMP. Great research managers help their teams maximize outcomes while minimizing confusion, exhaustion and irreversible mistakes — and they can balance competing constraints of time, money and quality to do the best possible science. There are many tools for structuring the management and flow of projects — and just like learning to code, proficiency with one tool will give you the means to use many other tools. The McDonald Institute currently uses Trello to plan, implement and monitor projects. Learn from Interim Managing Director Ed Thomas on how your own work can be organized using any number of similar tools to help you and your teams meet your own project deliverables.

Presenter: Edward Thomas is the Interim Managing Director at the McDonald Institute. He supports partnerships, communications and business development between the McDonald Institute and the broader astroparticle physics community, academia, government, business, NGOs and the Canadian public. He is a master's graduate in chemical engineering. He has more than 20 years of experience in technology development, research administration, innovation support and business journalism. He is a part-time scholar of cultural history, dog lover and avid cyclist

Self-Guided Professional Development and Learning EDII Series
A reminder that the self-guided modules for enhancing your equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigenization (EDII) competencies are now available. These opportunities are open to students, staff, and faculty affiliated with the McDonald Institute. We thank our partners at the Human Rights and Equity Office (Queen’s University) for providing this training to the network!

The following opportunities are available:
  • Introduction to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Power, Bias, and Privilege
  • Unconscious Bias
  • Conversations on Decolonization
  • Navigating Difficult Conversations
  • Inclusive and Responsive Teaching
  • Call it Out

Previously Recorded Sessions available  

We have updated the Professional Development and Learning series website to improve navigation and provide access to previously recorded sessions. Further sessions will be added, so be sure to check in with the website in the future! 
Tools from the Couch

Tools from the Couch is back! This is an opportunity to share the diverse expertise that exists in the astroparticle physics community on different computational (or otherwise!) tools that we use for our research. Sign up to lead your own session on a research tool:

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021: Parallelization and Message Passing Interface (MPI: Distributed Memory)
Lead: Mark Richardson

Modern simulations and data analysis often relies on parallelization, where multiple processors either work together on small sub-task of your code, or divide and conquer larger work. In this session I will give a brief recap of parallelization, then dive into detail with distributed memory parallelization with MPI (Message Passing Interface). I will showcase converting some serial codes into parallel and highlight speed-up gains. This session will be a prerequisite for the CAC session on July 21st.

Zoom details to come. Please register here.

“Ghosttrap” with Nadia Lichtig

Wednesday 16 June from 3—4:30 pm EDT

Drift: Art and Dark Matter artist Nadia Lichtig presents a 15-minute performance, Ghosttrap, followed by a conversation with Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art. Sign up to save your spot in this free program.

In this ongoing and evolving project, Lichtig collects stories of individual fears. In Ghosttrap, she gathers these testimonies from interviews during her travels and makes long exposure photographs referring to them. In this version, she integrates a new photograph taken deep underground at SNOLAB. In the performance, the artist recounts the stories while listening to the interviews via headphones, echoing them aloud and assigning pictures to them. The performance catches the particularities of the language of each of the speakers and investigates how the repressed, interiority and the subjective appears in speech, and how mental images arise. Depending on the context, Ghosttrap is shown as a performance or in the form of an installation in two distinct rooms (photography, silkscreen prints, lights, timer)

Upcoming SNOLAB Seminars

  • 06-25 TRISEP Colloquium: Prof. LOUIS LYONS (Oxford & Imperial College London) – What is Probability? Bayes and Frequentist approaches.

  • 06-28 Dr. BJOERN LEHNERT (LBL) - The KATRIN Experiment.

  • 07-05 Prof. FABIO IOCCO (University of Napoli) - Dark Matter in the Milky Way.

Please contact Silvia.scorza@SNOLAB.CA for connection details.

2021 Canadian Astroparticle Physics Summer School (CAPSS) 

This May, the 2021 CAPSS came together virtually for an educational and hands-on week of astroparticle physics. Together, 46 students from around the globe (many joining in synchronously at very late local hours) interacted with each other and the SNOLAB, Queen’s University, and McDonald Institute astroparticle physics community. Days were spent learning from different experts on the physics of the standard model, the astrophysics of dark matter, and the theory and technology behind detectors of neutrinos, dark matter, and more. 
Group Zoom shot of many of the participants and facilitators at CAPSS’s SNOLAB day, including a virtual tour of the SNOLAB facility, the SNO masterclass, and networking opportunities.
Overall, the 2021 CAPSS was a great success, even given its virtual constraints. We can’t wait to begin planning for CAPSS 2022 which should return to an in-person format! Stay tuned for more information here:

Astronomy on Tap
Check out the latest Astronomy on Tap! Streamed live on May 20th, the full event is available to view on the McDonald Institute YouTube channel here:

If you would like to view past newsletters from the McDonald Institute, please visit the: Newsletter Archive.

The McDonald Institute at Queen’s University is situated in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee First Nations. The Institute is part of a national network of institutions and research centres, which operate in other traditional Indigenous territories. Visit to learn the traditional territories where astroparticle physicists are grateful to live and work across Canada.

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