Queens engineers to help unravel mysteries of the universe

Posted on November 07, 2016

At least two new professors will be joining the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s to help support the newly funded Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute (CAPRI).

MP Mark Gerretson joined University administrators on Sep 6 to announce a $63.7-million investment from the Government of Canada for the creation of the new research centre to be headquartered at Queen’s. The money will be used to help Canadian researchers explain some of the enduring mysteries of the universe, including the nature of dark matter particles, the properties of neutrinos, and the role of these in the formation and evolution of structure in the Universe. 

The funding, delivered as a Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant will establish seven new faculty positions at Queen’s, including one in mechanical engineering, one in geoengineering and one in engineering physics. The goal of CAPRI is to increase the intellectual capacity in this field by creating a Centre which brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines to tackle these complex problems. It adds ongoing support for current experiments and paves the way for new ones at SNOLAB, the world renowned underground particle astrophysics laboratory at Sudbury. The Centre will also create opportunities for students at all stages of their careers through summer research positions, internships in industry, summer schools and graduate exchange programs. The new engineering faculty members will work on projects including developing new semiconductor technology for detection instruments, understanding and mitigating the effects on data of any radiation coming from the materials surrounding the experiment and the design and installation of new equipment.

view inside SNOLab
EXPANDING UNDERSTANDING: The much-needed grant money will help finance new and existing experiments at SNOLAB, the underground particle astrophysics laboratory in Sudbury.

“In addition to the new faculty members, it’s going to mean something like six post-docs a year at Queen’s as well,” says Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy department head professor Marc Dignam. “The funds will also support engineers and technical staff members, project managers, research associates and 15-20 graduate students on an ongoing basis.  In addition, we will be hiring some administrative support staff, an outreach and education officer, and a business manager with the responsibility of making connections with Canadian industries to explore the commercialization of possible spin-off technologies.”