Issue 17, Dec 16th, 2020

As we near the close of this uniquely challenging semester, I just want to say Congratulations! You did it! I hope that you had some silver linings and that your productivity was able to approach normalcy. I am so amazed at how many things have changed and presented us with new ways of doing things. Have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday break!

Also, be sure to join us tonight for our first virtual IGnite event!

(pronouns: he/him/his)
Communications Officer,
Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute

Saying Goodbye to Dr. George Ewan.
Queen's Professor Emeritus George Ewan passed away on Dec. 7 after a lengthy illness. He leaves behind a massive legacy as a research community builder in international particle astrophysics and a champion of Canadian involvement.

“George was a pioneer in the first use of a germanium gamma ray detector in a nuclear physics experiment in the 1960’s, initiating a revolution in gamma ray detection in medicine, nuclear physics and industry”, says Art McDonald, a long-term colleague. “He was again a pioneer in the development of particle astrophysics in Canada as the first Canadian Spokesman of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Those of us working in this field owe a tremendous amount to the ground-breaking work of this great scientist and friend.” 
George Ewan was among the recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2016 for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory experiment and was singled out for his role as project initiator in 1984 along with Dr. Herb Chen. There were many other honours conferred on Dr. Ewan throughout his career. He was a winner of the CAP Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics, a Sigma Xi Fund of Canada Awardee and a co-winner of the NSERC John Polanyi Award. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Guelph, Laurentian and Queen’s universities.

The McDonald Institute was aided by the generosity of George and Maureen Ewan through an endowment fund for the George and Maureen Ewan Lecture Series. The Ewan Lectures have featured esteemed researchers such as Francis Halzen, David Radford, and Nobel Laureate Barry Barish. While 2020 has caused a delay in the delivery of the Ewan lectures, we look forward to continuing this event series honouring the legacy of George and Maureen.
"If you ask around the community of particle astrophysicists in Canada, you encounter scores of stories relating to George’s timely interventions, sage advice and life-changing career suggestions,” says McDonald Institute Scientific Director Tony Noble. “His ability to aspire to a great personal vision and his adaptability, humility and intelligence in adapting that vision to the best-possible scientific opportunity has been monumentally important to research.”

“The McDonald Institute’s mandate is to continue building Canada’s community of particle astrophysicists and its overall ability to engage, adapt and commit in the best interests of scientific excellence. In that sense, we can imagine ourselves as trying our best to follow in the direction that George led us for so many years.”
Dr. Ewan was predeceased by Maureen Ewan, his spouse of 65 years, in 2018.

If you would like to contribute any photos, stories, etc., please contact Zachary Kenny at

Miriam Diamond Awarded Prestigious Polanyi Prize in Physics!
The 2020 Polyani Prize in Physics was awarded to Assistant Professor Miriam D. Diamond for her work on dark matter detection techniques and involvement with the SuperCDMS experiment at SNOLAB.  

The Polyani prize, named after 1986 Chemistry Nobel Laureate John Charles Polyani, is awarded annually to exceptional early-career researchers in Ontario. Up to five post-doctoral researchers or recent faculty hires in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science may receive the prize. 
Prof. Diamond began her appointment at the University of Toronto in January of 2019. Receiving the Polyani prize further celebrates the momentous contributions of Prof. Diamond to the field of astroparticle physics and our understanding of the universe in general. Dark matter detection is notoriously difficult due to dark matter particles only interacting with ordinary matter through the gravitational force. Despite dark matter’s elusivity, it makes up approximately a quarter of our universe. Dark matter detection technique development and implementation are paramount to discovering the true nature of dark matter and providing insight into the structure of our universe. 
Congratulations to Prof. Miriam Diamond! We look forward to your future accomplishments and contributions to astroparticle physics research in Canada.  

NSERC honours Canadian Nobel laureates
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is honouring two of Canada’s recent science Nobel laureates by launching prizes in their names that will highlight Canadian research excellence. The prizes are the NSERC Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research and the Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships.
Valued at $250,000, the NSERC Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research will be awarded annually to an individual or team whose outstanding research has led to exceptional benefits for Canadian society, the environment and/or the economy. Any NSERC-funded researcher can be nominated for this award for research conducted in Canada regardless of their career stage.

The Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships recognize early-stage academic researchers in the natural sciences and engineering and support them to enhance their research capacity to become global leaders in their field. Worth $250,000 over two years, these awards were previously known as the EWR Steacie Memorial Fellowships, and more than 220 have been offered since the prize was introduced in 1965.

“This is a tremendous honour from NSERC,” Dr. McDonald told the Queen’s University Gazette, “I am particularly pleased because these fellowships will support early-stage academic researchers at a critical point in their careers. I know that there will be wonderful results in future from these creative young Fellows who will be given time and resources to pursue an innovative new idea.”

COVID-19 made working difficult for everyone this year, and the NEWS-G team at SNOLAB was no exception!

The New Experiments With Spheres - Gas (NEWS-G) detector was scheduled to continue with installation earlier this year when its components arrived at SNOLAB from Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane in France. Due to lockdowns and further COVID-19 restrictions, preparing for the installation of the copper sphere ground to a halt. Preparations have now resumed, starting with a successful chemical etching of the ultra-pure copper layer inside the sphere to remove impurities and contaminants that would affect the experiment.
The NEWS-G detector, nicknamed SNOGLOBE, is designed to push the boundaries of dark matter detection and investigate lower mass astroparticles.

This story kicks off our brand new Science News section of the McDonald Institute website. Be sure to keep an eye on this page for more Canadian Astroparticle Physics news, and please reach out to our new Knowledge Translation Specialist, CJ Woodford to make sure your research is shared!

The exhibition DRIFT: Art and Dark Matter opens in January!
This exhibition represents the culmination of the artist residency co-hosted by the McDonald Institute, SNOLAB, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen's University. Artists Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, Anne Riley and Jol Thoms came to Kingston and Sudbury to connect with astroparticle physics researchers and see the experiments and projects underway. Since their visits last summer and fall, they have been working in their studios in Vancouver, Paris and Montpellier, France, and London, UK, creating artwork for the upcoming exhibition.

These deeply thoughtful artistic creations are sure to provide unique ways of thinking about what dark matter research is all about. Here is a sneak peek of one of the artworks created for Drift:Art and Dark Matter!
Jol Thoms, Untitled (Isometric Dimensions of Land Use), 2020, digital print

We are making arrangements for various virtual tours, talks, and symposia to bring a rich experience of the project to you remotely.

The Drift project coordinators are also developing a comprehensive and fully adaptable educational package that will be offered to grades 9-12 teachers. Provided lesson plans tell the story of the residency and encourage students to embark on an art and dark matter journey of their own, learning about physics and creating artwork that will be featured in a virtual gallery! Please contact Mark Richardson at for more information.

CAP Teacher Awards
The CAP recently announced the 2020 High School/Cégep Teacher Awards.

We congratulate recipients Shawn Brooks, Patrick Mayard and Ryan Beck.

We also congratulate awardee Joseph Muise, who has repeatedly engaged with the McDonald Institute, from giving us feedback on our newsletters and amplification on social media to helping us pilot new school programs both online and in the classroom for the Drift: Art and Dark Matter project. 

Joseph Muise, St. Thomas More Collegiate
The McDonald Institute is pleased to open the seventh round of the HQP Pooled Resources Competition. The application for this round has been expanded to identify a designated student and highlight their potential.

This competition targets funding towards identified graduate students for a maximum of two years (excluding scholarships or salaries gained through teaching and research assistant positions etc.), with a start date prior to September 2021. Funding for positions is available to those pursuing astroparticle physics research in Canada aligned with the McDonald Institute Research Strategy.

This will be one of the last HQP Pooled Resources opportunities. Submit your application before the deadline of January 29, 2021, 4:00 pm EDT 


For more details, please visit the McDonald Institute Competitions webpage.

Please direct all questions and submissions related to this call to with the subject line: “HQP Pooled Resources Round 7 - {Faculty’s last name}”.
Upcoming Events:
Join us TONIGHT! Dec 16 and be inspired by the stories behind the research at Queen's University! There will be a Q&A with the scientists and live physics demos from the McDonald Institute Visitor's Centre!
December 21, 2020, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST
Adisokan is the Algonquin word for storytelling with special cultural meaning. Join Ingenium and the Indigenous Star Knowledge group for stories about the stars from three Indigenous nations - Mapuche (Chile), Algonquin (Quebec), and Dene (Northwest Territories). Indigenous teachings, spirit, language, world views and an exploration of the word and role of stories in Indigenous culture.
The 58th Winter Nuclear and Particle Physics Conference (WNPPC) will be held as a virtual conference from February 9 - 12, 2021. It is a national meeting for the Canadian subatomic physics community, with a special focus on providing a forum for junior researchers (students and postdocs) to present their research and interact with groups across Canada. The 2021 meeting is being organized by McGill University and TRIUMF, and as usual will feature sessions focusing on the research areas of interest to the Canadian subatomic physics community, both experimental and theoretical. 

Our invited speaker at WNPPC2021 are:
• Nahee Park, Queen’s University
• Joseph Bramante, Queen’s University/McDonald Institute
• Maahias Danninger, Simon Fraser University
• Dennis Muecher, University of Guelph
• Erica Caden, SNOLAB
• Juan Pablo Yáñez, University of Alberta/McDonald Institute

Important dates:
Registration opens: November 23, 2020
Deadline to submit abstracts: December 18, 2020
Registration closes: January 10, 2021
Notification of accepted abstracts: January 15, 2021

For further information and registration, visit the conference webpage:

Registration is free for students and postdocs, and $80 for regular attendees ($100
after Dec. 18, 2021). Abstracts should be submitted to

SNOLAB Seminar Series

Monday, January 11th at 1 pm ET: “Coherent Neutrino-Nucleus Scattering” (Prof. Phil Barbeau, Duke University)

Monday, January 18th at 1 pm ET: “XENON” (Prof. Alfredo Davide Ferella, L’Aquila University)

Monday, January 25th at 1 pm ET: “Neutrinos in Astrophysics and Cosmology - Theory” (Prof. Irene Tamborra, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen)

For connection details, please contact Silvia Scorza at

Are you a woman and the first in your family (including siblings) to attend post-secondary?

Are you enrolled in an undergraduate STEM program at an Ontario university?

If yes, please fill out the survey to see if you qualify:

Participants who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to participate in three interviews. As a thank you, participants will receive up to $85 in gift cards for their participation.

If you have any questions about the study please contact Lindsay Coppens at or her research supervisor Dr. Ruth Childs (

Thank you for reading the whole newsletter! As a special thank you for your support, we hope you enjoy this astroparticle physics holiday snowflake craft! This is not your grade-schoolers snowflake folx, this is a serious x-acto knife and cutting board ordeal. Whatever it looks like in the end, post a photo of your attempt on social media and tag us, we will pick a few winners to receive some McDonald Institute swag. Good luck!

Thank you for your continued interest in the Canadian astroparticle physics community.
If you would like to view past newsletters from the McDonald Institute, please visit the: Newsletter Archive.

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