Our Network


Edward Thomas

Associate Director (External Relations)

edward.thomas@mcdonaldinstitute.ca |

Edward Thomas is the Associate Director of External Relations. He supports partnerships, communications and business development between the McDonald Institute and the broader astroparticle physics community, academia, government, business, NGOs and the Canadian public. He is a masters graduate in chemical engineering. He has more than 20 years of experience in technology development, research administration, innovation support and business journalism. He is a part-time scholar of cultural history, dog lover and avid cyclist.

Alexandra Pedersen

Manager for EDII Capacity Development

alexandra.pedersen@mcdonaldinstitute.ca |

Alex Pedersen (she/her) is the Manager for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII) Capacity Development with the McDonald Institute. Alex previously held the Business Development Officer role with the Institute from 2019-2023. As a the Manager for EDII Capacity Development, she works with faculty, postdocs, staff, and students to make the Canadian astroparticle physics community more diverse and inclusive. Alex is an experienced leader who has implemented and enhanced organizational EDII strategies, programs, and initiatives. She holds a Doctorate in Human Geography (Queen’s University), a Master’s in International Studies (University of Northern British Columbia), and a Bachelor’s (Honours) in International Development Studies (University of Guelph). In her spare time, Alex is an executive board member and volunteer with several local and national non-profit organizations, and is an energetic beekeeper in the Kingston community.

Chineze Onuoha - On Secondment Effective February 2024-2025

Program Officer

chineze.onuoha@mcdonaldinstitute.ca |

Chineze is the Program Officer for the McDonald Institute. She is responsible for administering funding competitions and funding ticket management across McDonald Institute support programs. She joined the McDonald Institute from the University Relations department of Queen’s University, where she was responsible for coordinating administrative & financial activities and department-related projects. Before joining Queen’s University, she worked in British Council, where her responsibilities included managing projects and grant schemes across Sub-Saharan Africa. In her spare time, she loves spending quality time with family and friends, playing board games and solving puzzles.

Nicholas Grona

Finance Officer


Nicholas (Nick) is the Finance Officer at the McDonald Institute. He started in August 2023 and brings with him enthusiasm for improving processes, procedures and reporting requirements. Nick previously worked for Nutrien Ltd. in Saskatoon as a tax analyst prior to relocating to Kingston last year. After moving, Nick worked for KPMG in Kingston briefly before starting at the McDonald Institute. Nick graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Upon completing this, he then completed the Charted Professional Accounting Professional Education Program through the CPA Western School of Business and final examination for his Chartered Professional Accounting Designation. He is just currently completing his experience requirements to become a CPA.

Mariam Kumassah - On Maternity Leave March 2024-2025

Human Resource and Administrative Coordinator


Mariam’s passion for HR dates to her pre-professional days when she completed her undergraduate studies, a BA in Psychology and Human Resources from the University of Ghana. She has been on the HR path from the start! She enjoys helping employees advance their careers and influencing strategic business decisions. Mariam joined the Institute from the Regional Assessment and Resource Center (RARC) as a part-time Administrative Secretary, where she oversaw administrative tasks and other projects. Before joining Queens University, she worked for the City of Kingston in the department of Communications and Customer Experience. Outside of work, Mariam enjoys singing and listening to music. She loves to spend her free time with her lovely family. She also spends some free time working as a volunteer for her local church community.

Mark Richardson

Manager for Education & Public Outreach

mark.richardson@mcdonaldinstitute.ca |

Mark Richardson is the Manager for Education & Public Outreach for the McDonald Institute at Queen’s University. Mark works closely with Zachary Kenny to develop and implement education and outreach programs for the Queen’s and Kingston communities and beyond. Mark previously had research and education roles at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and Oxford University. Mark completed his PhD in Astrophysics at Arizona State University in 2014. Mark earned a BSc in Honours Astrophysics in 2009 from Saint Mary’s University in his hometown of Halifax.

Zachary Kenny

Communications Officer

zachary.kenny@mcdonaldinstitute.ca |

As a professional graphic designer and brand manager, Zachary works to help develop and promote the activities and programs of the McDonald Institute and provides communications support to all areas of operations. He is passionate about science communication and is always looking for new and interesting ways to engage the Canadian public in astroparticle physics and the STEAM fields. Zachary is an abstract artist and art educator and holds a B.F.A from OCAD University and an M.F.A. in Art Education from Concordia University.



Technical Staff

Koby Dering

Senior Mechanical Engineer

koby.dering@queensu.ca |

Koby is a licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario, and obtained a B.Sc.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University. Working in close collaboration with scientists and technical staff, Koby brings a wealth of experience in design, fabrication, and installation of custom components and infrastructure required for sensitive particle detectors at SNOLAB. Koby was responsible for many components of the DEAP-3600 detector, from the conceptual phase through to commissioning of the experiment, and is currently providing engineering oversight and support for the NEWS-G and CUTE experiments.

Jonathan Corbett

Engineering Designer

jtc7@queensu.ca |

Jonathan is one of the junior design engineers who obtained a B.A.Sc and M.A.Sc in Engineering Physics at Queen’s University and joined the MI engineering team upon graduating. On his way to achieving his Professional Engineer designation, Jonathan brings his experience working on cryogenic particle physics experiments as he works to perform preliminary engineering calculations, design components, assist with the fabrication, assembly and testing of equipment, and give technical advice and mentorship to MI students who work on their own design projects. Outside of work, Jonathan enjoys cooking, spending time in the outdoors with family, volunteering at his local church, and playing ultimate frisbee.

Mackenzie Dean

Engineering Designer


Mackenzie is one of the new junior design engineers, she obtained her B.Sc.Eng. in Mechanical engineering from the University of Guelph. While completing her degree Mackenzie gained experience in research and manufacturing through four different co-op work terms. During her time working with the McDonald Institute, she has been involved in the design of some of PICO-500’s subsystems and has learned a lot about the innovative approaches to dark matter detection.
Outside of work Mackenzie loves to cook, play sports, spend time with family and friends, and of course, play Wordle!


Engineering Designer


Armin, a creature of logic and curiosity, is a mechanical designer, and a plant/DIY/woodworking/running enthusiast, who is currently contributing to engineering phases of cutting-edge physics experiments such as dark matter detection. He received his BSc in mechanical engineering and worked in the steel industry before coming to Canada for graduate studies. After obtaining his MSc, he continued as a research assistant at McGill until he found his dream job at MI. Here, he primarily works on mechanical design, CAD modeling, FEA and numerical simulation, and the preparation of design reports and presentations, and actively builds engineering expertise while learning from technical experts and scholars. ✌️🤟

Nic Moss

Engineering Designer


Nicholas Moss is among the engineering designers on the McDonald Institute’s engineering team. A 2020 graduate of McMaster University with a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering and Society. His past work experiences have primarily involved R&D engineering work in the food and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries, as well as design work in machine shops. A tinkerer at heart, he’s always curious about how and why things work, and strives to understand things from the ground up. He is pursuing a P.Eng through the PEO.

Outside of work he is a proponent of maker culture and sustainable design as well as a DIY enthusiast with a host of hobbies including (but not limited to) hiking, biking, Dungeons & Dragons, kayaking, salvage and restoration, and freediving.




Madelyn Bratuz

Former: Engineering Summer Intern


Madelyn is fulfilling a Research and Design Engineering Internship with the MI engineering team. Working with the NEWS-G collaboration, she is designing the G3 detector and associated systems. She is currently completing her B.A.Sc in Engineering Physics, material science option at Queen’s University. Outside of work, Madelyn enjoys figure skating, spending time in the woods and playing piano.

Paola Dantonio

Former: Financial Assistant

pmd3@queensu.ca |

Paola Dantonio (she/her) is one of the Finance Assistants for the McDonald Institute. She provides support to the Finance Officer and ensures compliance with financial processes. Paola started at the MI as an intern through the Queen’s Doctoral Internship in University Administration (QDIUA) program. She has a background in Biomedical Sciences and is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Cancer Research at Queen’s University.

Anand Sanchir

Former: Financial Assistant (SWEP)

anand.sanchir@queensu.ca |

Anand Sanchir, as a SWEP student, is one of the members of the brilliant finance team, working closely with the Finance Officer to manage and administer the McDonald Institute grant funds. He is currently completing his BA in economics at Queen’s University. Outside of work, Anand plays for the Queen’s Men’s Soccer Team and represents his home country with the Mongolian National Football Federation.

Greg Ridge

City Councillor for the City of Kingston

Former: Finance Officer


Greg Ridge is the Finance Officer for the McDonald Institute. Greg provides financial management and accountability for the McDonald Institute grant funds. He has a background in business, specializing in managerial accounting, and previously worked for in provincial politics both in Kingston and at Queen’s Park in Toronto. He is an alumnus of Queen’s for his BA and has a BBA from Laurentian University. He is currently completing his MPA through Queen’s.

Donald Bédard

Current: NATO

Past: Managing Director


After an all too brief appointment as Managing Director of the McDonald Institute, Dr. Donald Bédard has accepted a position at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels to assist in the development and implementation of new space capabilities for the Alliance. “It was a difficult decision,” explains Don, “as I really enjoy the team here and working with the astroparticle physics community.” The new position is just too enticing to pass up for Don; “It offers new and interesting challenges that will push me forward, and where my expertise will be uniquely impactful.”

Max Edgington

Current: Freelance web developing

Past: HQP Coordinator


Max is the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Coordinator for the McDonald Institute. Through program creation, governance support, and data collection, he fosters the growth of the astroparticle physics HQP community. His educational background is in human relations, in addition to graduate studies focusing on community economic development. He has more than 5-years of experience in communications, coordination, and digital marketing. He currently prides himself on his TikTok that primarily features his cat, Chester (@karysandmax). He is a world traveler, lifelong learner and art enthusiast.

Bei Cai

Current: Research Projects Advisor, Vice-Principal Research Portfolio, Queen's University

Past: Interim Managing Director


Bei Cai was the Interim Managing Director from July-September in 2022. She was responsible for staffing and supervision of the McDonald Institute administrative team and reporting to the Board of Management and the Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat. She came into this position with extensive scientific research and leadership experience, having taken part and played leadership roles in many astroparticle physics experiments including the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), Dark Matter Experiment using Argon Pulseshape discrimination (DEAP), Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, and New Experiment With Spheres-Gas (NEWS-G). Bei has a Ph.D. in astroparticle physics from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

Charles J. Woodford

Current: World ITO Research Associate, Ocean Networks Canada

Past: Knowledge Translation Specialist


CJ was the Knowledge Translation Specialist for the McDonald Institute. He completed his PhD in physics at the University of Toronto in 2020, specializing in theoretical astrophysics and numerical simulations at CITA. At the McDonald Institute, CJ was responsible for translating scientific content for the astroparticle physics community and developing the McDonald Institute’s digital spaces. In his spare time, CJ works on astronomy outreach initiatives with Discover the Universe, enjoys open-world video games, and spends quality time with his dog, Chip.

Diana Turner

Current: Human Resources and Staffing Officer, Queen's University

Past: HR and Administrative Coordinator


Diana was the Human Resources and Administrative Coordinator for the McDonald Institute until July 2022. Her background in business and administration, as well as education and music, made her an excellent first point of contact for the McDonald Institute. Diana was the assistant to both the Scientific Director and the Managing Director of the Institute and handled the HR responsibilities of the staff, faculty and HQP. Through her various other administrative roles, she enabled smooth running of the institute’s operations. Diana enjoys time with family, at the gym, teaching piano, and playing board games.

Edward Nkole

Current: International Office Senior Planning & Budget Officer at the University of Toronto

Past: Financial Officer

edward.nkole@utoronto.ca |

Edward Nkole was the Finance Officer for the McDonald Institute. Working closely with Edward Thomas (Managing Director), Edward was responsible for providing expert advice, financial accountability and management of all McDonald Institute grant funds. Edward is a Queen’s alumnus having graduated with a degree in Economics and Global Development Studies in 2010. In addition, he is an associate of CPA Ontario and CIMA UK.

Meghan Brien

Current: Manager, Department of English, Queen's University

Past: Program Officer


Meghan Brien was the Program Officer for the McDonald Institute working to ensure our continuous improvement through developing success measurement metrics for the Institute’s programs. Meghan has a Master’s degree from Western University in Environment and Sustainability and has worked in various levels of government on environmental sustainability program and policy evaluation. Her environmental assessment and planning work in public transit has earned her recognition as a leader in energy management and electric vehicle programs.

Fouad Elgindy

Current: Director, Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Programs, Queen's University

Past: Managing Director

fouad.elgindy@queensu.ca |

Fouad Elgindy was the Managing Director for the McDonald Institute, an initiative of Queen’s University that seeks to assert Canada’s position in particle astrophysics. In this position, he was responsible for directing all aspects of the administration of the institute. He brought to this position more than a decade of government and private sector experience in managing research grants and innovation policy. Through his passion for the underlying science of the McDonald Instiute and the need for Canada to achieve excellence in this area, Mr. Elgindy strived to create a Canadian centre of excellence to maximize the impact and better the understanding of research in particle astrophysics. Prior to joining the McDonald Institute, he was a Senior Program Manager of the flagship Government of Canada Networks Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. In this role, he led the development of high profile bilateral international initiatives between Canada and India and recreated a unique business-focused collaborative research program affecting aerospace, mining, manufacturing, and health industries. Mr. Elgindy earned a BSc in Physics from the University of Guelph. He also operates a grant consulting company and is a professional photographer.

Jennifer Low

Current: Physics+ Project Manager, Queen's University

Past: Program Officer

jennifer.low@queensu.ca |

Jennifer was the Program Officer for the McDonald Institute at Queen’s University. In this role, she supported program and competition delivery, governance, performance management, and data collection for the McDonald Institute. After completing her MSc. in Environmental Science at the Royal Military College of Canada, Jennifer worked as a research associate at The University of Winnipeg where she advanced her research and teaching experience while learning administrative, supervision, and technical skills.  Jennifer was the operations coordinator (technician) for the multidisciplinary Manitoba Institute for Materials at the University of Manitoba where she was vital for operations, programming, conference organization, accounting, and administration. In her spare time, Jennifer can be found training with her horse for competition and enjoying quality time with her family.

Sarah Dawson

Interim Communications Officer

Sarah is the interim Communications Officer for the McDonald Institute. They are also an event coordinator – helping to organize and run some of the Institute’s many projects. They completed their PhD in Physics at McMaster University in 2021, where they specialized in soft condensed matter physics. Outside of work, Sarah likes to read, play guitar (poorly), and cook.

Nathalie Ouellette

Deputy Director of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic

Past: Education and Outreach Officer


Jodi Lees

Current: Research Associate and Project Coordinator, Queen's University

Past: Program Coordinator