Issue 25, October 18th, 2021


Welcome to our 25th McDonald Institute newsletter! We hope you're enjoying them! We are always trying to make them better, so please let us know if you have ideas on how we could improve!
Be sure to check out the McDonald Institute 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:

National Meeting of the Canadian Astroparticle Physics Community, Aug. 25-26

The McDonald Insitute’s late-August Annual Meeting of the Canadian Astroparticle Physics Community put a spotlight on challenges and opportunities posed by the possibility of multi-decade experimental durations after the next generation of scaled detectors such as nEXO, LEGEND and Darkside-20k have completed their 0νββ and WIMP research programs.
Focusing on near-future developments, the Annual Meeting reviewed the current state of detecting Majorana behaviour (self-annihilation) in neutrinos via 0νββ. Members of the SNO+, nEXO and LEGEND collaborations presented project updates and TRIUMF-based theorist Jason Holt reviewed new approaches toward resolving the anticipated decay’s nuclear matrix elements. Participants then reviewed the results of a community conversation on the future of 0νββ and workshopped options for advising SNOLAB’s consideration in hosting emerging experiments.

External experts expanded on the theme of what it takes to support 30-year-duration experimental regimes. In two panels, leaders from Ocean Networks Canada, Queen’s University, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Ogamuah Annag & Associates, and the Long-Term E. Coli Evolution Experiment reflected on their organizations’ experiences in multi-decade-duration development times, data acquisition programs and how long-term thinking changes the ways communities sustain themselves for such long periods of time. Key points of discussion included:
  • The necessity of broadening engagement across disciplines and academic interests when research resource commitments reach critical thresholds of time (or funding).
  • Multiple perspectives on research leadership in long-lived projects. If the scientists who conceive of the project do not see the project through, do we train every new leaders to be inventive, or to be supportive?
  • Re-thinking the scope of consequences of research, not only for its duration but for many generations after the research has been concluded.
The Institute also used the meeting to update on its highly successful midterm review under its Canada Research Excellence Fund (Round 2) grant, its expectation to conclude grant spending in mid 2024 and its interest in developing an updated community-driven mandate to direct its next decade of programming. Scientific Director Tony Noble also identified the Institute’s key areas of focus through 2024: boosting international profile, honing its science support to driving research results, boosting equity performance and accountability among partners and expanding its partnerships to support sustainment and social & economic benefit. Having successfully leveraged its CFREF support to develop a critical mass of working particle astrophysicists in Canada, the Institute’s next challenge will be sustaining this network of talent as long as it takes to see long-duration projects through completion. This possibility should inform researchers’ thinking about the longer-term role of the McDonald Institute and its sustainment, said Dr. Noble.

McDonald Institute Student Awards
The McDonald Institute is offering recognition awards for students who have made significant contributions to:

  1. Research
  2. Outreach and education
  3. Equity leadership
  4. Innovation leadership.

Awards will consist of a $250 honorarium and a commemorative certificate in recognition of contributions to the Canadian astroparticle physics community. You are invited to nominate students to receive these awards.

The nomination deadline is Oct 29th, 2021 at 12h00 EDT. 

Nominations are submitted using a private online survey and are adjudicated by award committees of no less than one McDonald Institute administrative officer and two astroparticle physicists employed in Canada.

Click here to access the submission surveys:

KDK readying for Reveal

The KDK collaboration has validated their experimental method and testing, and are ready to measure an elusive 40K decay channel. The electron capture decay channel of 40K to ground state 40Ar has never been experimentally observed and has a wide range of theoretically proposed decay rates. Having an accurate measurement of the decay rate will lead to improved background characterization for rare event searches using NaI crystal scintillators, and is also of interest to geochronology.
See our science news article on the current status of KDK and resources to learn more.

A schematic of the KDK experiment, Figure 1 from 2017 KDK conference proceedings.

Astronomy on Tap (online)
Astronomy on Tap Kingston returns (virtually) on Oct 21st. Our theme for the night is world-class facilities for doing astrophysics and astroparticle physics, with a focus on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, and SNOLAB. Tune in to hear from our speakers, check out what’s new in space, and try your hand at some space-themed trivia.

Tune in live on YouTube at:

We’re working behind the scenes to streamline our Tools from the Couch and Professional Development and Learning workshops this fall! Join us as we launch the Professional Development Opportunities webpage and opportunities!
What you can expect starting this November:

  • More biweekly sessions to help build your knowledge of important research tools and transferrable skills 
  • Access to a suite of previously recorded materials to advance your personal learning
  • Engagement with partners and support services across campuses to elevate your academic experience
  • Links to a network of astroparticle physicists and related disciplines are various career stages (undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, administrators, research scientists, faculty) through live sessions and LinkedIn engagement

We look forward to announcing the implementation of a passport badging program for skills identification and recognition of engagement with the Professional Development programs at the McDonald Institute. This passport will launch in ear
Stay tuned for more updates about Professional Development Opportunities in the coming weeks! Be sure to subscribe to receive notification of upcoming events and news:

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 Canadian Astroparticle Physics Summer School (CAPSS) is an intensive week-long undergraduate school that will introduce students to the current topics in the field of astroparticle physics at Queen’s University and SNOLAB. Please share this poster with students at your institution.  

Visit for more information

2022 Cross-Disciplinary Internship (CDI) Opportunity

The Cross-Disciplinary Internship (CDI) 2022 program is a novel experience for students enrolled in non-physics degrees to join an astroparticle physics lab or research group for a 16-week internship.
Prospective students must have the following qualifications to apply:
  • Enrolled in a post-secondary program outside of physics (i.e., college diploma programs and university degrees);
  • Eligible to work in Canada;
  • A strong record of academic achievement;
  • Enthusiasm for discovery-based research and intellectual curiosity;
  • An open mind to cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing and learning about astroparticle physics.

Prospective faculty supervisors must be:
  • Affiliated with the McDonald Institute, or have astroparticle physics research-based in Canada;
  • Be available for hands-on, discovery-based learning over the course of the program;
  • Eligible to hold an institutional account for grants or awards;
  • Able to provide office space, lab materials, and a minimum of $500 CAN towards student opportunities.

A call for applications will open in November. Internships receive $12,000 in addition to the $500 contribution from faculty for opportunities. If faculty would like to be featured on the CDI webpage and be highlighted in recruitment efforts for the program, please reach out to Dr. Alex Pedersen (Business Development Officer) at for support. For past examples of CDI recipients, please see past interns and projects on the website. 

Dr. Renée Hložek receives the 2021 McLean Award!
Congratulations to Dr. Renée Hložek (Assistant Professor at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophyics) who is the first scholar in Astronomy and Astrophysics to receive the award in ten years!

Hložek works in the Simons Observatory collaboration, an international group of scientists building microwave telescopes in the Atacama desert of Northern Chile, in order to observe the afterglow of the Big Bang. She is also part of the Rubin Observatory’s Dark Energy Science Collaboration, which is gearing up to use the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to unravel the mysteries of cosmic acceleration.

The McLean award recognizes one emerging research leader at the University of Toronto and $125,000 is granted annually by the university through the Connaught Fund – the largest internal university research funding program in Canada.

McDonald Institute Seminar Series

October 28, 2021
Seyda Ipek (Carleton University)

November 4, 2021
Qinrui Liu (Queen’s University)

November 18, 2021
Tien-Tien Yu (University of Oregon)

November 30 2021

Ewan Lecture: Juna Kollmeier on November 29th at 7:30 pm in Grant Hall.

The McDonald Institute is excited to announce that the 2021 George and Maureen Ewan Lecturer is Dr. Juna Kollmeier, director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto. Dr. Kollmeier will be giving a free public lecture about her research which tries to understand the formation of galaxies, the Milky Way, and the black holes within them. More information will be released soon at

The lecture will be in person at Grant Hall (43 University Ave, K7L 3N5) on Monday, November 29th, at 7:30 pm. We will also be live-streaming the event on YouTube to broaden access to the event.

The George and Maureen Ewan Lecture series was endowed by Queen’s Physics Professor George Ewan and his wife Maureen in 2018 to support seminar and lecture programs designed to increase scientific discourse and culture within the Particle Astrophysics community at Queen’s University and the broader Kingston community.

2022 CAP Lecture Tour Call for Speaker Nominations

The CAP invites nominations of speakers (English or French) who can engage undergraduate students by presenting, with clarity and enthusiasm, an exciting topic in physics between January and April 2022. 

Nominations can be submitted by any CAP member, heads/chairs of any CAP member physics department, heads of institutional members, and the official representative of the CAP corporate members.

Nominations can be submitted using this form no later than 23h59 EDT Sunday, October 31, 2021

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

Do you have a recent result or publication that you would like shared with the Canadian Astroparticle Physics network and beyond? Send your work to CJ ( to have it featured in our Science News series!
Science News is intended for students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and research associates actively working in astroparticle physics to quickly digest updates and progress in areas that are not directly connected to their specific project(s).

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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