Issue 35, August 17th, 2022

The McDonald Institute is excited to bring you the latest astroparticle physics news!

Long-term thinking about postdoctoral training at the National Meeting
The Annual National Meeting of the Canadian Astroparticle Physics Community concluded in Toronto on Aug. 5 after two days of social events, workshops, and panels addressing the state of the discipline and near-term prospects for Canadian researchers. The McDonald Institute’s application for new programming under a third-round CFREF grant was a key theme among these events.

Aug. 4 workshops focused on the Institute’s desire to build support programs addressing the long-term health of the postdoctoral training ecosystem. 

“Postdoctoral fellows are a key engine in our research enterprise and we’re paying close attention to longstanding concerns about postdoc training across all disciplines,” said Associate Director Edward Thomas, referring to recent research and policy whitepapers by the Canadian Council of Academies, Canadian Science Policy Centre, Mitacs, Conference Board of Canada and university postdoctoral offices and advocacy groups.

Most of this recent work recommends augmentations to the way postdoctoral scholars are recruited, hired, mentored and career coached – ensuring that the expertise and experience they develop as researchers can be structured to favour high-impact career outcomes in industry, government, or non-profits, as well as academia. This is important in Canada where the number of postdoctoral positions is five times higher than the number of available tenure track positions. As a discipline that tends to be highly networked, internationalized and collaborative,Thomas suggests astroparticle physics is well situated to become a leader in postdoctoral training norms.

“One of the things we’ve been doing for a long time is training people to make progress on ‘wicked’ research problems requiring large-scale, long-duration, multinational collaborations,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to imagine how a bit of extra structure and support to what we’re already doing well would help our postdocs accelerate their ability to have impact in academia and also make it easier for them to steer their earned expertise into problem-spaces with similar ‘wicked’ scope. There’s an opportunity, I think, for astroparticle physics to differentiate itself in Canada and internationally, as an especially effective ecosystem for postdoctoral training.”

Current proposals in the CFREF3 application that could advance postdoctoral careers include a formal mentorship program for postdoctoral fellows, a theory focused workshop, an academic co-working site in Sudbury and specialized training opportunities across a broad suite of technology development, management and engineering-focused operations.

The Aug. 4 workshop “Mapping a Leadership Development Program for Postdoctoral Fellows” took the community’s priorities for postdoctoral development and then compared them to leadership skills and attributes that both academic and non-academic employers have recently identified as desirable outcomes of postdoctoral experience (Steen et al. 2021; Mulheren 2017; McMaster University 2019; Sampley 2020). Both priority lists were then used to assess the potential of proposed postdoctoral programming in Mentorship, Networking and Professional Skills to meet community priorities for postdoctoral development. 
Adobe: Sankey diagram shows the community’s assessment of proposed programming supports for postdoctoral fellows (right) on wide-ranging leadership development targets identified as valuable for postdoctoral training.
Edward noted, “Out of the gate, we observed great enthusiasm for proposed mentorship and networking support for postdocs in terms of developing leadership skills that can serve postdocs regardless of the direction of their long-term career trajectories. These are areas where we will want to focus our efforts while finding excellent partners to deliver on skills that are of less importance to our community but have been identified as important to external actors.”

Current proposals in the CFREF3 application that could advance postdoctoral careers include a formal mentorship program for postdoctoral fellows, a theory-focused workshop, an academic co-working site in Sudbury, and specialized training opportunities across a broad suite of technology development, management, and engineering-focused operations.
DRIFT: Art and Dark Matter September programming
The art exhibit DRIFT: Art and Dark Matter is showing at the Justina M. Barnicke gallery at the University of Toronto until October 8, 2022. There are several special events that tie in with the exhibit, which local colleagues may be interested in:

Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:00pm EDT
Curatorial Tour and Artist Performance 
with Sunny Kerr and Nadia Lichtig
In-person event, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 6:00–8:00pm EDT
Dark Matter and Metaphor: a Panel Discussion on Art and Astrophysics
with Renée Hložek, Miriam Diamond, David Curtin, Elvira Hufschmid, and SeungJung Kim
Online event
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 6:00–8:00pm (EDT)
Keynote: Karen Barad
Online event
There will also be a virtual, text-based feature: an essay, "'Two Moons?’: The Shifting Terrain of Art and Science,” by art historian Paige Hirschey, delving into historical understandings of artistic vs. scientific perspectives on the cosmos. This will be published as a Virtual Spotlight in early September. 

Image: Orthomorph (Tunneling) by Jol Thoms (2020).
GUINEAPIG Workshop on light dark matter
The GUINEAPIG (GeV and Under Invisibles with New Expeirmental Assays for Particles In the Ground) Workshop will bring members of the astroparticle physics community together to discuss topics in low-mass dark matter. The workshop will take place September 8-10, 2022, and will be hybrid format, with an in-person component in Vancouver, British Columbia. More information and registration can be found on the event Indico page.
Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) Workshop 2022
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) mission is a space-based gravitational wave interferometer planned for launch in the mid-2030s. It promises major advances across a wide range of fields in physics and astronomy. Canadian researchers in particle physics, astronomy, gravity, instrumentation, spacecraft, computing, and other related fields are well poised to play an important role.

This year’s workshop will focus on synergies between LISA and other priorities in Canada’s astronomy and particle astrophysics program, including other missions, theory initiatives, and multi-messenger astronomy. It will also feature a presentation on a proposed Canadian hardware contribution to LISA.  

The workshop is particularly geared for Canadian researchers who may be interested in getting involved with LISA and would like to learn more about current and potential Canadian contributions to LISA. No previous experience with gravitational wave astronomy is assumed, but you can find an introductory overview in talks from 2021’s LISA Canada workshop.

All are welcome to attend - this workshop is intended to be accessible to researchers at every career level. Please register by August 24. There is no fee for registration.

Registration is available through the Indico site, here

TeVPA 2022 wrap-up

Almost 200 physicists visited Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario, during the week of August 8-12 for the TeV Particle Astrophysics (TeVPA) 2022 conference. TeVPA 2022 brought together experts in cosmic rays, cosmology, dark matter, galactic and extragalactic sources, gamma rays, neutrinos, and multimessenger physics. The plenary talks were recorded and can still be viewed on the TeVPA2022 YouTube channel

Next year’s conference will be held September 11-15 in Napoli, Italy. 
Image description: Group photo of the 2022 TeVPA conference attendees taken outdoors on the Queen's University campus.

McDonald Institute welcomes new Interim Managing Director Dr. Bei Cai
The McDonald Institute is excited to welcome Dr. Bei Cai into the position of Interim Managing Director. Bei has a Ph.D. in astroparticle physics from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She comes into this position with extensive scientific research and leadership experience, having taken part and played leadership roles in many astroparticle physics experiments including the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), Dark Matter Experiment using Argon Pulseshape discrimination (DEAP), Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, and New Experiment With Spheres-Gas (NEWS-G). As managing director, she is responsible for staffing and supervision of the McDonald Institute administrative team, and reporting to the Board of Management and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.

Farewell to Diana Turner, Human Resources and Administrative Coordinator
The McDonald Institute bid farewell to Diana Turner. Diana was the Human Resources and Administrative Coordinator for the McDonald Institute until July 2022. Her background in business and administration, as well as education and music, made her an excellent first point of contact for the McDonald Institute. Diana was the assistant to both the Scientific Director and the Managing Director of the Institute and handled the HR responsibilities of the staff, faculty and HQP. Through her various other administrative roles, she enabled smooth running of the institute’s operations.
Diana has moved on to a position as the human resources and staffing officer at the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, where we are sure she will be an invaluable addition to their team. Best of luck, Diana!

Explore opportunities in astroparticle physics!
The Careers in Astroparticle Physics website features jobs, research positions, and other career-building opportunities in the field in a highly discoverable way. Prospective and current students can easily find current postings to take their careers to the next step, or just to keep them inspired and optimistic about their future.

We hope you find this community resource helpful!

Connect with the community:

Share some new research or ask a question to the community at the Canadian Astroparticle Physics LinkedIn Group

For the latest physics memes, pet photos, and virtual conference chatrooms, always feel free to say "hi" in the McDonald Institute HQP Community Discord

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.

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

If you would not like to receive the McDonald Institute Newsletter, please click the link below or use the Update Profile link at the bottom of this email: