Cross-Disciplinary Internship Program

2021 Competition Closed for Applications

Could your skills collide with astroparticle physics for some amazing results?

The Cross-Disciplinary Internship Program provides a salary reimbursement for full- or part-time students registered in non-physics majors to participate in astroparticle physics research. This program is open to students to work with leading astroparticle physics researchers in Canada. Find previous CDI recipients and projects here.

Application Deadline: Friday November 27, 2020 at 4pm EDT

Internship Amount: $12,000 CAN + $500 CAN from supervising faculty towards student opportunities

Internships Available: Up to six positions across Canada

Eligibility: Prospective students must have the following qualifications to apply: 

  • Enrolled in a post-secondary program outside of physics; 
  • Eligible to work in Canada; 
  • A strong record of academic achievement; 
  • Enthusiasm for discovery-based research and intellectual curiosity; 
  • An open mind to cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing and learning about astroparticle physics. 

Prospective faculty supervisors must be:

  • Affiliated with the McDonald Institute, or have astroparticle physics research based in Canada;
  • Be available for hands-on, discovery-based learning over the course of the program;
  • Eligible to hold an institutional account for grants or awards;
  • Able to provide office space, lab materials, and a minimum of $500 CAN towards student opportunities.

Application Process: Students must meet with an astroparticle physics faculty member at the institution of choice who is willing to be their supervisor. Together, the student and supervisor are required to co-develop a research proposal for submission. Students are required to attach an unofficial transcript to the application and submit the application form as a single PDF document by the deadline

Application Submission: Please send all documents and enquiries to the Research Personnel and Event Coordinator at admin@mcdonaldinstitute.ca with “CDI Program – [SUPERVISOR LAST NAME]” as the subject line.  

Notice of Decision: Late-December 2020 via email for 2021 competition applications.

See below for examples and opportunities for working with potential astroparticle physics researchers. If you are a potential supervisor and would like to advertise on our CDI website, please contact the Business Development Officer at alexandra.pedersen@mcdonaldinstitute.ca  with “CDI Program – Website Ad [LAST NAME]” as the subject line.

The Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute is committed to creating space for more equitable, diverse, and inclusive research and research training environments. If you require documents in alternate formats, please contact us and we will do our best to meet your needs.

Application Documents

Application Guidelines (155KB)
Application Form PDF (to be filled out by both student and supervising faculty) (257KB)
Application Form Word (to be filled out by both student and supervising faculty) (224KB)

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Highlighted Host Labs and Research Groups

Several McDonald Institute faculty members have opened their doors for potential cross-disciplinary internships (see below). This list of host labs/research groups is not exhaustive. Undergraduate and graduate students applicants should reach out to astroparticle physics researchers at Canadian institutions to explore further opportunities.

If you are a faculty member interested in participating in this program, please contact us at any time to have your lab/research group description and details added.

Dr. Joseph Bramante (Queen’s University)

Professor Bramante’s theory research encompasses dark matter, astroparticle physics, astrophysical searches for new physics, and cosmology. Theoretical physics is presently confronting exciting puzzles, including the nature of dark matter, the state of our universe prior to primordial nucleosynthesis, and the present abundance of matter as compared to antimatter. Dr. Bramante’s research seeks out new explanations for these phenomena and fashions new methods to test such explanations. One part of his research is computing dark matter interactions in various environments, including neutron stars, interstellar gas clouds, and detectors underground. 

Dr. Miriam Diamond (University of Toronto) 

Professor Diamond in astroparticle physics, University of Toronto, seeks a student with Game Design expertise to join her SuperCDMS group next summer.  SuperCDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) is a world-leading experiment that looks for interactions of dark matter in cryogenic germanium and silicon detectors equipped with sensors for the thermal energy of particle interactions. The clean, well-shielded detectors are operating deep underground, to avoid interference from cosmic rays. SuperCDMS operated in an underground laboratory in Soudan, Minnesota until 2015.  Now, the collaboration is building an even more powerful version of the experiment in SNOLAB, Canada’s world-leading astroparticle physics facility located 2 km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury.  The mission of the SuperCDMS collaboration is not only to detect dark matter, but also to educate and inspire the public about this scientific endeavour which constitutes perhaps the greatest treasure hunt in history.  Prof Diamond is looking for a student to create educational game(s), accessible to the public for free through the collaboration website, incorporating the properties of dark matter as well as the workings of the SuperCDMS detectors. The student will be provided with schematics, including 3D renderings, of the detectors and SNOLAB facility, as well as relevant background information in the field of dark matter.

Dr. Guillaume Giroux (Queen’s University) 

Professor Giroux’s primary research involves the NEWS-G experiment, which searches for dark matter particles using extremely sensitive spherical gaseous detectors installed in deep underground laboratories. The NEWS-G detectors can achieve the detection of uniquely low energy interactions, which makes the search for the light dark matter particles that are predicted by new theories possible. NEWS-G is an international and multi-disciplinary collaboration that joins the expertise of physicists, radiochemists, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers. 

Giroux’s research group seeks contributions from artificial intelligence, such as the development of novel machine learning data analysis techniques to help search for dark matter interactions. 

Dr. Matthew Leybourne (Queen’s University) 

The QFIR laboratory is dedicated to excellence in the measurement and application of trace elements and isotopes to address problems in the geological and geological engineering sciences, chemistry, biology, physics and social sciences. Although the majority of the work done in the laboratory is related to geological applications, we routinely analyze and are involved in research in a wide variety of disciplines, including for example, isotopes in polar bear feces to monitor migration patterns, stable isotopes in bird feathers, isotopic composition of teeth and archeological artifacts, meteorite samples, paleoclimate studies of tree ring chemistry, among many others.  

The laboratory hosts some state-of-the-art equipment and is one of the best-equipped and staffed geochemistry labs in Canada. The lab includes electron microprobe instruments (EMP, SEM), X-ray diffraction, four ICP-MS (including high resolution and multi-collector) instruments for ultra-trace and isotopic analyses, two 193 nm excimer laser ablation systems for in situ analysis of minerals, four gas source mass spectrometers (for light stable [H, O, C, S, N] isotopes), as well as sample and thin section preparation facilities.  

We are looking for interns from almost any discipline, but they must be open to new ideas, to learning new skills, and to sharing knowledge through interaction with lab staff and other interns. Interns are expected to communicate the results of their work at the end of their stay in QFIR. We typically have 3-10 interns in QFIR over the summer, although interns can be embedded at any time throughout the year. We typically assign a small research project for the interns to work on, in addition to general assistance with the general analytical operations. We have the potential for several projects in the area developing new analytical techniques for Se and Te isotopes (both elements have isotopes that are candidates for neutrinoless double beta decay), and in applications for pushing lower detection limits using reaction cell techniques in ICP-MS, related to low background research of importance to the McDonald Institute and also critical in many areas of geochemistry 

Dr. Fabrice Retière (TRIUMF)

TRIUMF, PHAAR (PHoton for Astroparticle Physics and Applied Research) group is developing light sensing and readout solutions for the next generation of experiments searching for Dark Matter interactions and investigating neutrino properties. The PHAAR group is led by Senior Research Scientist, Fabrice Retiere. Our work is ideally suited for students interested in working in an experimental research setting. Whether you are interested in silicon sensor development, analog or digital electronics, mechanical engineering including cryogenic systems or even system engineering, we have a challenge for you. We believe that the single-photon detection technology that we are developing is poised to provide solutions for addressing key issues facing our society such as global warming. We seek students interested in digging into our technical solution portfolio to identify possible gems that could be turned into industrial success. For example, we are currently pursuing a “Single Photon Air Analyser” concept whose primary aim is to help firefighters manage wildfires. This project would greatly benefit from having a student develop its business case. Overall, we wish to attract students interested in being integrated into a diverse team, whose aim is to address key scientific questions and societal issues through the development of cutting-edge technologies.

Dr. Simon Viel (Carleton University) 

Professor  Viel is searching for dark matter with the DEAP-3600 experiment located underground at SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario. Dark matter is one of the main mysteries in fundamental physics today: while everything we can see directly around us is made of ordinary matter, our most recent models predict that there exists more than 5 times more dark matter than ordinary matter in the Universe.  We are looking to detect very rare interactions of dark matter particles with a liquid argon target in the laboratory. 

Viel’s research group is open to interdisciplinary collaborations, including:

– A student in artificial intelligence or computer science would join the dark matter search directly, bringing the latest in data analysis techniques in software; 

– A student in geology could contribute studies of the overburden above the underground laboratory, which is directly relevant to cosmogenic background rates in experiments – this could be done using muon geotomography with our muon data; 

– A student in economics, history, social geography or Indigenous studies could provide context on the conditions favourable for past, present and future experiments in astroparticle physics in Canada; 

– A student in sociology, linguistics or communication could explore the social dynamics and use of language on a daily basis in our international collaborations.

Dr. Aaron Vincent (Queen’s University) 

Professor Vincent is a theoretical astroparticle physicist and member of the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute, as well as the Queen’s Astronomy Research Group, in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy at Queen’s University.

Vincent’s group research encompasses many aspects of astroparticle phenomenology and cosmology, with emphasis on the particle nature of dark matter, and the search for novel ways to identify itHe is particularly interested in the effects of dark matter on stars like the Sun, along with its interactions with other messengers including neutrinos and the cosmic microwave background. Another active research area is the interpretation and possible scientific uses of the high-energy astrophysical neutrinos recently seen by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory located at the South Pole.

Dr. Peng Wang (Queen’s University) 

The advancement of many new technologies is empowered by the availability of specific inorganic crystalline compounds. In the field of astroparticle physics, single crystal materials are extensively used as detectors to study the interactions between cosmic radiation and matters. Our research focuses on the discovery and development of inorganic crystalline materials as radiation detectors. In addition to the technological and commercial values, inorganic crystals exhibit intrinsic, natural beauties stemming from their symmetry and optical properties. We are interested in inviting a student with a background in visual arts to showcase the research in crystalline materials to the general public. 

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