Kaelan Renault

MSc Candidate, Computational Sciences

CDI Summer Intern, 2020

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Supervisor: Clarence Virtue
Home InstitutionLaurentian University
Project Affiliations: SNOLAB

About    |    Project    |    CDI Experience


About Kaelan

I completed my undergraduate degree in Computer Sciences at Laurentian University with a few friends who graduated with degrees in Physics. I took an introductory course on general astronomy but didn’t pursue my interest in physics any further during my undergraduate degree. During my graduate studies at Laurentian University, while pursuing my M. Sc. Computational Sciences degree, I received an email explaining that the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute was offering a “Cross-Disciplinary Internship” opportunity to students who were interested in physics, but were not enrolled in a degree in physics. I was very intrigued and made inquiries as to whether or not any professors’s research fit the internship requirements. After discussing Dr. Virtue’s work with him we agreed that we might both benefit from pursuing the internship, and luckily our application was selected to receive the honour. I’m very glad I was given the opportunity to work on the Mini-HALO Monte Carlo simulation with Dr. Virtue, as it has given me amazing experience both in Computational Sciences and in working with the tools necessary to continue working in the astroparticle physics world.

Project: Modelling of the Neutron Detector Characterization Facility for Supernova Physics

The first few weeks of my work were spent immersing myself in the project and code associated with the Monte Carlo simulation for Mini-HALO. In addition to familiarizing myself with the code and pre-existing work done on the project; I became more familiar with Geant4 and ROOT. Once I was acclimated to the role, I was able to begin working on adapting the simulation so that the geometry of the detector being simulated could be changed in specific ways through parameters instead of needing to change the code. Once those features were implemented and tested; I worked with others to overhaul the code and render it both more readable and more efficient. Finally we ran an in-depth analysis of the Monte Carlo simulations to ensure that everything appeared to be working as expected.


“I now believe that I might want to pursue a career in physics since I now see what the daily schedule of a researcher looks like. It’s nice to have been a part of a project with global scope working with understanding colleagues.”

Kaelan’s CDI Experience


"My favourite experience from the internship was the days I spent participating in the McDonald Institute's National Meeting. I was able to present my work and meet a lot of nice people in the astroparticle physics community."

I chose physics because I had close friends that did their undergraduate degrees in that field and it was always a subject that interested me, though I had not pursued my interest in the field until my internship with the McDonald Institute.

I had never heard of Geant or ROOT before my internship but am now equipped to work on projects across physics since I am proficient with both. My understanding of physics has been deepened and my interest has been piqued. I am now considering moving into a physics-related PhD program once my Master’s degree is complete.