$63.7 million government investment announced for astrophysics headquarters at Queen’s

Forty-one new positions to be created in Canadian hub

Research will probe into the origins of the universe.
Credit: 
Via Wiki Commons

The universe, as we know it, is a mass of neutrinos and dark matter. Often, the realities of the universe's origin seem darker still. But as of Sept. 6, research conducted at Queen's will be able to shed light on the subject.

On Tuesday, the University received a $63.7 million investment from the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund to create the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC).

The fundis intended to help Canadian postsecondary institutions “excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada,” according to their website.

With the creation of the centre at Queen’s – planning for which is underway – an intensive focus will be placed on further research into particle astrophysics. Particularly, research will be conducted on neutrinos and dark matter, the former of which led to Queen’s professor Arthur McDonald’s 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Seven Canadian universities will be affiliated members of the new centre – the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, Carleton University, Laurentian University, McGill University, Université de Montréal and the University of Toronto.

Various institutes will be partnering with the centre as well, including the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Institute of Particle Physics, and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory where McDonald’s research took place.

The centre is set to create 41 new positions for researchers, engineers, designers and technicians, as well as 18 postdoctoral fellow and 40 graduate student opportunities on an annual basis.

Tony Noble, a professor of physics at Queen’s who will be actively involved in the project, supports the development of the centre for its ability to provide enriched opportunities for Queen’s students.

Noble has been involved with various other astrophysics experiments at Queen’s, including the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory experiments, which led to the discovery that neutrinos change flavour in passing from the core of the sun to the earth.

According to Noble, the CPARC will provide students with more international exposure, greater job opportunities, and connections within their respective industries.

The funding will also allow different faculties to collaborate on research. According to Noble, this investment “bridges the different departments around the campus to come together, and all get behind this program.”

The next scale of particle astrophysics experiments to be performed at the new centre, he explained, require a wide variety of skill sets and backgrounds to complete successfully.

Aside from research, the centre will also provide industry partnerships within the nuclear, mining, and medical industries. Through the CPARC, Queen’s intends to expand its scientific culture and distinguish itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada.

For Noble, the implications in Canada will be significant. The centre will “foster international collaboration,” he explained. Researchers in other countries will be encouraged to join Canada-led projects, transforming Queen’s into the epicenter for particle astrophysics. 

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