Issue 12, May 15, 2020

We hope you've been taking good care of yourself and your families over the past couple of months. We recognize everyone’s hard work in adapting to the changing conditions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will be some time before all of our community's regular research work and routines can resume.

As we expressed last month, t he continuation of our research depends on the community's ability to endure these stressful times. We encourage everyone to make health and safety your top priority. Take time needed to check-in and talk with your colleagues, and support and care for yourself and your loved ones.  The science will be waiting for us once the crisis has passed.

With this in mind, we are also always happy to hear from you. Tell us about the things you're doing or the challenges you're facing during this time, whether it's constraining neutrino mass hierarchy, learning how to sew face masks, or edging the garden! Let us know at

FDA approval: Mechanical Ventilator Milano Project
In a little more than six weeks, the Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) has gone from conception to reality. As of May 1, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) declared that the MVM falls within the scope of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for ventilators. MVM collaborators are proceeding with authorization for Canada, Italy and Europe and production in Italy, Canada and the US, to support patients affected severely by COVID-19 in those countries and internationally.

Canada’s particle physics community has demonstrated its flexibility and adaptability in applying its knowledge and skills toward solving a most pressing global problem. The community has also played a leading role in the formation of the interdisciplinary team bringing together collaborators in medicine, engineering, computer sciences, manufacturing, and fund-raising.

“We in Canada have been very pleased to participate in the development of this new ventilator design. For me personally, it has been wonderful to work with an international team covering such a broad range of expertise, working extremely hard to save lives in these difficult times. Everyone is very happy that their talents can make a difference, a true humanitarian spirit.” - Art McDonald
The MVM Design

The MVM ventilator is inspired by the Manley ventilator, which was developed by Roger Manley in 1961. The MVM is designed to meet the requirements of a ventilator as simply as possible. The MVM incorporates advanced features directly recommended by participating anesthesiologists who provided care for COVID-19 patients in Lombardy, the region in Italy most severely hit by the COVID-19 epidemics. The device features electrically driven pneumatic valves rather than mechanical switches and uses a stripped-down mechanical design. This enables fast progress from design to quick, inexpensive mass production of safe, reliable ventilators for hospitals and patients around the world. The modular design can also be adapted to swap out parts based on their availability in different regions of the world. The final design of the MVM ventilator will soon be released on It will be licensed under the CERN OHL v2.0 by the Fondazione Aria.

Elisa Meazzi (Elemaster) and Oscar Putignano (UniMIB) on the MVM project YouTube channel:
For more information about the MVM project, please visit the website at:

Open source paper:

Funding campaign:  

Artists Engage with the Search for Dark Matter
Drift: Art and Dark Matter , is an artist residency and exhibition project developed with the McDonald Institute, SNOLAB, and the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery at Queen’s University. Over the Summer and Fall of 2019, four artists visited SNOLAB and Queen’s University to meet with researchers and see the experiments designed to look for Dark Matter. T he residency aims to foster an exchange of ideas and create new avenues of science communication and art, which may lead to new perspectives of scientific research across Canada.

The search for Dark Matter is one of the most fascinating challenges in science, and artists Nadia Lichtig , Josèfa Ntjam Anne Riley , and  Jol Thoms are bringing their artistic visions to this mystery. After visiting the astroparticle physics labs at Queen’s University and meeting with theorists, engineers, and students, the artists travelled 600 kilometres north and two kilometres below the earth’s surface to SNOLAB, home to some of Canada’s most ambitious scientists and experiments.

An exhibition of the artwork is currently scheduled to run from January 9th to April 11th, 2021, and will begin at the Agnes in Kingston, Ontario before starting a national tour for 2021 and 2022.

Read more about the residency:

Web Profiles for Student Researchers and HQP
We previously reached out to students and Highly Qualified Personnel offering to create individual profiles on the McDonald Institute website. These professional research pages where you can include information about yourself, your institute, and the kinds of research projects you are involved in, and are a professional and network asset.

We are very pleased to present this first group of researcher profiles and are looking forward to adding more soon

If you would like an HQP profile on the McDonald Institute website, please fill out the google form and provide as much information as you can. We will be in touch when your profile is in development!

A Note About McDonald Institute Funding Opportunities
The McDonald Institute’s funding opportunities are intended to enable meaningful scientific progress in the Canadian Astroparticle physics community. During the current pandemic, many unknowns are having an impact on these programs.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, we are delaying the Catalyst Workshops, Novel, and International Collaborations competitions, until appropriate. Situation permitting, we hope to launch the next competition in Fall 2020.

In our Research Resources stream, the HQP Pooled Resources sixth round is currently under review with notices of decisions to be released later this month. As we approach the end of the McDonald Institute CFREF funding in August 2023, there are limits on our ability to commit funding to longer-term positions. To ensure fair and equitable access to the limited funds available in the pool, we will not consider further funding extensions to HQP tickets. In the Frontier Research Venture Fund program, recipients experiencing delays as a result of the pandemic closures or limited access to research facilities may be eligible for an extension to the identified end-date. Please contact  for more details.  
Travel restrictions have significantly impacted our Visiting Scientist and Ph.D. Exchange Programs. We encourage the applicants to stay in contact with their host representatives and institutions for up to date information regarding international travel. We are extending the timeframe of the awards until the end of 2020 and will assess if further extensions are needed later in 2020.  Similar to the Collaboration opportunities, we will be suspending new Visiting Scientist and Ph.D. Exchange competitions until further notice. 

Please visit the McDonald Institute Funding Opportunities webpage for updates:

McDonald Institute's Summer of Science!
The McDonald Institute is running an online summer science program for high school and some middle school students across the country. Please pass along the information below to any students in your network.

Calling all middle and high school students! Are you keen on physics, astronomy, and the nature of the Universe? Are you interested in learning the scientific skills needed to be a scientist? Come join the McDonald Institute’s Summer of Science starting July 7 to August 13, 2020. Summer of Science is a free online enrichment program for students inspired by science and physics. Meeting each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, each session features  interactive activities in an online community setting. 

Please feel free to email Mark Richardson, Education and Outreach Officer, at if you have any questions.

Professional Development and Learning Series
The McDonald Institute is pleased to present the Professional Development and Learning Series online for students and fellows. Weekly workshops are free to attend and focus on a wide variety of topics aimed to enhance professional skill sets in pursuit of your career. Please join us for our upcoming workshops this month and visit our website for future offerings and registration details: 
Tuesday May 19, 2020: 1:30pm – 3:00pm EDT

Managing Complex Research -- Tasks, Projects and Portfolio Strategies: Science is a social enterprise. Its progress depends on the mutual obligation of multiple actors working in coordination towards commonly held goals. This means that as science gets “bigger” the demands for coordination, organization and management know-how increase over time. This talk is organized to introduce post-graduate students to simple project management methods and strategies using a single tool (Trello, with a few add-ons). All of the content of the talk can be easily implemented in a wide range of similar tools (Post-It notes, MS Project, Jira, Wrike, Monday, Favro, etc.). This presentation introduces project organization and planning at three scales: individual tasks, projects (collections of functionally related tasks) and portfolios (collections of projects).

Presenter: Edward Thomas -- a McDonald Institute officer and former startup adviser, engineering researcher and business journalist -- is offering this seminar on a widely adopted methodology for scalable innovations that use scientific methods.
Tuesday May 26, 2020: 1:30-3:30pm EDT

Positive Space Program with Jean Pfleiderer (Associate Director, Human Rights Advisory Services): In celebration of 20 years of the Positive Space program at Queen’s University, we are excited to have Jean Pfleiderer join the McDonald Institute for one of the first-ever-delivery of Positive Space online. Students who complete the program at Queen’s receive a sticker to indicate they have completed the workshop and uphold the program mandate . Positive Space stickers in work, living, or study areas signal that all are welcome. To be welcoming includes not making assumptions about anyone’s gender or sexual orientation, being aware of intersectionalities with other forms of oppression, and working to overcome both overt and subtle forms of discrimination and harassment.
If you have questions about the Professional Development and Learning Series, please contact Alexandra Pedersen, Business Development Officer at .

 Please see the website for future offerings and registration:

Tools from the Couch: A Learning Series
The McDonald Institute is launching the Tools from the Couch Series, an opportunity to share the diverse expertise that exists among our community on various computational (or otherwise!) tools that we use for our research.
  • Bash Scripting and Unix
  • Latex
  • Python, astropy, matplotlib, and Jupyter Notebooks
  • Parallelization: OpenMP, MPI, GPU
  • MCMC
  • Machine learning (supervised and unsupervised training)
  • Gaussian Processes
  • Version Control and Git
  • Code Clinics
  • Hackathons
  • Social Media APIs
  • Photoshop / Illustrator 
  • Excel and Word
  • Microsoft Teams
Resources and example files will be shared on the McDonald Institute Website:

If you have any questions about the Tools from the Couch Series, or if you would like to register, please email Mark Richardson, the Education and Outreach Officer, at .

G.I.R.L.S. Initiative launches STEM Stories:
What does it take to become a scientist? Where do they come from, and how did they get to where they are? STEM Stories explores the lives of top female scientists and their pathways to becoming leading experts in the world.

Tune in weekly, Thursdays at 1 pm EDT / 11 am PDT to hear and interact with the top minds in science. This 20-minute program will feature a 10-minute autobiography by guest scientists, followed by a 10-minute live Q&A.

Everyone is welcome to join and participate in the journey and exploration of the lives of the greatest minds of our time.

ComSciCon -GTA

ComSciCon-GTA is a virtual workshop event for graduate students currently living in the Greater Toronto Area.

Workshop dates: September 26, 29, and October 1, 2020. 

Applications  for ComSciCon-GTA 2020 are OPEN! The deadline for applications is Friday, May 29, 2020.

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 .

As a special thank you for reading all the way through, please enjoy this McDonald Institute desktop wallpaper/Zoom background!

Stay home and stay safe, and thank you all for doing your part!

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