September 13th, 2023

Issue 46

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Hi Zachary,

Welcome to the first newsletter of the new academic year! We hope you had a lovely summer and a great first week of the semester and are ready for new and exciting challenges. 

If you're new to the community, be sure to join the LinkedIn Group and connect with the growing number of science-minded folks there. If you're looking for more of a social vibe, head over to the Community Discord to share your best physics memes and pet photos or chat about your big ideas.

Not a fan of LinkedIn or Discord? Let us know how you stay connected. We are eager to learn how best to support our broad and diverse network of students, researchers, and alumni. Drop us a line at

Want to help support the community? We invite motivated students and early career researchers to participate in the McDonald Institute Highly Qualified Personnel Advisory Committee (HQPAC). The committee meets regularly to discuss issues and strategize long-term goals for ways to enhance the experience of everyone in astroparticle physics. Reach out to Zac Kenny at for more information.

We'd also like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the McDonald Institute Summer Students: Summer Research and Outreach Fellows: Ivanna Boras, Mary Batthish, Rebecca Dudley, and Yusen Qiu, Education content developers Katharine Jekic and Maggie Oxford, and Financial Assistant Anand Sanchir. Thank you all for your incredible work, and best of luck this year!

Ewan Lecture: Dr. James Peebles

Next Thursday, September 21st, join us in welcoming Dr. Jim Peebles, the 2019 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, back to Kingston and Canada. Light refreshments will be served from 6:45 with a collection of science and art displays, and then Dr. Peebles will give an enlightening talk about our place in the expanding cosmos, and how we've come to understand that the Universe has this surprising behaviour.

Tickets are going quickly for this in-person event, so please register here ASAP!

Monday, Sept 18th: The Role of Metaphor in Art and Science Collaborations

How can creative processes in art and science impact each other?

Join artist and McDonald Institute Cross-Disciplinary Intern Elvira Hufschmid for this participatory Art & Science Jam Session, where we explore creative processes to generate new scientific ideas, improve science communication, and open potential pathways for innovation.

Dr. Claire David, McDonald Institute Ambassador 2022-23

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Dr. Claire David, the first McDonald Institute Ambassador, has recently completed her six-month journey through eight African countries. She’s been collaborating with research colleagues and teaching scores of graduate students the mathematics behind artificial intelligences while also educating thousands of university and high school students about the ATLAS and DUNE collaborations where her research has been focused. Her recent work took her to university campuses in South Africa, Senegal, Benin, Togo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Rwanda and Ghana.

Dr. David travelled to Kingston in August to give a talk at the McDonald Institute's annual Canadian Astroparticle Physics Community Meeting about the impacts of adventure, vision, and passion in career-building.

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Dr. David has most recently relocated to Cape Town, South Africa, as the new Program and Research Manager of the post-graduate AI for Science Master's offered through the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.

Read the full story on the McDonald Institute website here.

The third annual Canadian Astroparticle Summer Student Talk Competition is another success!

The third annual Canadian Astroparticle Summer Student Talk Competition took place on August 22 and 23. Two full days brought together 24 undergraduate students from across Canada and around the world. Participating students enjoyed several workshops that ranged from EDI to networking.

SNOLAB Research Scientist Dr. Erica Caden introduced a community art project where all participants, both audience and students, shared what inspires them most about science by drawing it on a piece of fabric. This was later pinned and sewn together to become the CASST 2023 community quilt. Later that evening, Dr. Hoi Cheu of Laurentian University presented an engaging show in the Doran Planetarium. 

Ashley Ferreira (University of Waterloo) earned this year's first-place prize for her outstanding talk “Deeply Learning the Position Reconstruction of Antihydrogen Annihilations in ALPHA-g.” This summer, she was supervised by Dr. Makoto Fujiwara at TRIUMF. The second place prize was awarded to Myla Weiman (University of Waterloo), who just completed her first year of her undergraduate studies. Her talk this year was titled “Adding Bis-MSB in the SNO+ Detector: Boosting the Light Yield One Batch at a Time.” Third place was given to Yusuf Ahmed (University of Waterloo), who finished his studies this spring. He was awarded for his talk: “Improving radon assays using activated charcoal.” 4th place was awarded to Kristofer Karam (Université de Montréal), 5th place to Aditya Chugh (University of Toronto), and 6th place to Lauren Fearn (University of Waterloo). Honourable mentions were given to Maxwell Bridgewater (University of Toronto) and Maggie Oxford (Queen’s University).

Competitors also had the chance to earn a spot that will allow them to compete at the student talk competition at the CAP Congress in 2024 which will take place at Western University. The winners this year are Ashley Ferreira and Yusuf Ahmed. This opportunity to present their work to physicists across Canada is sponsored by the McDonald Institute and SNOLAB.

Queen's Indigenous rocket team wins First Nations Launch competition

The Queen's Indigenous rocket team was formed in 2019 and, since then, has been designing and building rockets together every year. In April, the team travelled to Wisconsin to compete in the NASA-sponsored First Nations Launch competition. Over 100 students from 21 different institutions participated In June, the results from the competition were revealed, and The Queen's team won first place in the written and oral report categories and received the most points of any team overall. As the only international team participating, they were ineligible to receive the grand prize grant award but were invited to attend the Kennedy Space Center for a VIP tour in August.

Read more about Queen's rocket team on Queen's Engineering News and on The Eastern Door.

McDonald Institute HQP Advisory Committee Call for Members

The McDonald Institute Highly Qualified Personnel Advisory Committee (HQPAC) is looking for new 2023-24 committee members.

The committee's goal is to act as the voice of the student and early career researcher community and provide the McDonald Institute with guidance regarding goals, challenges, and where resources and support are needed most. The Committee is provided a small fund through the Institute to support program development and, in the past, has produced such community initiatives as MINTERACT and the Community Art Challenge.

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If you are interested in joining or would like to nominate someone else as a committee member, please reach out to Zac Kenny at

More information on the 2022 HQPAC here.

Submissions extended through September!

The astroparticle physics community and the McDonald Institute are excited to announce a new art challenge to uncover creative talent among the physics research community. The initiative, started by Hector Hawley Herrera (2022 Highly Qualified Personnel Advisory Committee), looks to showcase the often unnoticed and undisclosed artistic talent of researchers while simultaneously offering a virtual and physical space for creativity and community gathering.

The Astroparticle Physics Community Art Challenge holds three categories for the community to submit their artistic creations under the theme "Day to Day Living". A panel of judges selected by the HQPAC will decide the award winners.

More information and submission guidelines here

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The Research Partnership-Building Workshops program aims to mobilize astroparticle physics researchers working in Canada by supporting novel workshops, training events, and short-term visits that either initiate or expand opportunities for eligible research or training partnerships. Program funds are separated into different streams supporting both national, and international partner building activities.

Learn more about the program and review the eligibility and guidelines here.


SNOLAB Seminar:

September 18, at 1:00 pm

Matthew Feickert - University of Wisconsin

“Towards differentiable physics analysis at scale at the LHC and beyond,”

The SNOLAB Seminar schedule is available here.

TRIUMF Seminars:

TRIUMF hosts loads of seminars. View the full schedule here.

Queen's Physics is co-hosting some upcoming sessions with the Queen's / RMC Astronomy Research Group (QUARG). View the seminar schedule here:

Explore opportunities in astroparticle physics!
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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.

View the Careers website at:

We hope you find this community resource helpful!

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.

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