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This Week in Research – Laurentian University and the SNOLAB partners in $63.7M Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Center (CPARC) CFREF project led by Queens University.

Laurentian University’s research trajectory continues to skyrocket! Researchers from both Laurentian University and the SNOLAB are part of exciting new project which recently received the green light from the Canada Frist Research Excellent Fund (CFREF). Led by Queen’s University, the $63.7 million CFREF award will help establish the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC) and lead to the creation of over 41 new academic positions across Canada. The $4 million portion of the award coming to Laurentian University will provision a new faculty and technical positions and contribute to the local administration of the CPARC.

The CPARC project involves scientists from seven Canadian University including University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, Carleton University, Laurentian University, McGill University, University of Montreal, University of Toronto, and five partner organizations including, SNOLAB, TRIUMF, Perimeter Institute, the Institute for Particle Physics (IPP) and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). The overarching goal of this collaborative structure is to achieve the highest level of international research excellence.

Laurentian University particle astrophysics group, composed of five active faculty members, Dr. Ubi Wichoski, Dr. Jacques Farine, Dr. Clarence Virtue and Dr. Christine Kraus (Canadian Research Chair Tier II in particle astrophysics), and professor emeritus, Dr. Doug Hallman, will lead our institution’s part of the CRARC project.  The group’s research expertise in conducting experiments which require extremely clean environments (ultra-low backgrounds), and their ability to interpret the results using innovative tools, hardware and techniques are vital to achieving the objectives of the CPARC initiative. The group’s expertise also compliments the SNOLAB's research program, which focuses primarily on particle astrophysics. Particle astrophysics research addresses the highest priority questions on the nature of the universe and in that process develops novel technologies at the frontiers of science. This is evidenced by the Nobel Prize in physics 2015 which was co-awarded to Dr. Art McDonald (Queen's University) - leader of the SNO experiment, that was carried out right here in Sudbury as well as the sharing in the Breakthrough prize 2016 by the entire SNO collaboration, involving Laurentian University researchers and staff now employed by SNOLAB. CPARC will bring the Canadian particle astrophysics community close together and form new collaborations in research and with industry and also enable training for students and young researchers.  

Existing and new experiments in Dark Matter and Neutrino research will benefit greatly from the CPARC collaboration and will spur increased innovation development, such as photo detector technology, in partnership with industry stakeholders. Low background controls, monitoring, tagging and calibration is a large research area where in particular researchers at SNOLAB and Laurentian have valuable expertise.

CPARC will also support a good number of summer research positions for undergraduate students --distributed over all partners – for internships in technical trades, PhD exchange programs, and a summer school for undergraduate students, to complement the already existing summer school program TRISEP, involving the Perimeter Institute, TRIUMF, SNOLAB and Laurentian University.

Congratulations to all the Laurentian and SNOLAB researchers and scientists involved with CPARC! We look forward to celebrating your next set of discoveries and technologies! For more information on SNOLAB visit their website here, and for more on Queen's University research visit their site here. For more information on the CFREF competition and its results visit their page here.