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Prof. Miriam Diamond receives the 2020 Polanyi Prize in Physics

Valued at $20,000, the Polanyi Prize recognizes outstanding early-career researchers

Headshot of Prof. Miriam Diamond.

The 2020 Polanyi Prize in Physics was awarded to Assistant Professor Miriam D. Diamond for her work on dark matter detection techniques and involvement with the SuperCDMS experiment at SNOLAB.

The Polanyi Prize, named in honour of 1986 Chemistry Nobel Laureate John Charles Polanyi, is awarded annually by the Council of Ontario Universities to exceptional early-career researchers in Ontario. Up to five post-doctoral researchers or recent faculty hires in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science may receive the prize.


Prof. Diamond completed her PhD in Experimental High Energy Particle Physics at the University of Toronto in 2017. She then worked as an Experimental Research Associate at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) before returning to UofT as an Assistant Professor in early 2019. With her appointment at UofT in Astroparticle Physics, she was welcomed as a faculty member of the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute.

"I have dedicated much of my career to the search for dark matter, a pursuit that is at once humbling and inspiring. To realize that all our advances in science and technology have been achieved with a model that explains, with extraordinary precision, the fundamental composition of just 5% of the universe. To imagine what more we have the potential to achieve if we can unlock the rest, and to be so bold as to chase that opportunity -- that is the ultimate expression of hope for the future of our civilization.

If we are to understand more than just a sliver of the universe, we must open our field to more than just a sliver of would-be explorers. We need contributions from all our brightest minds, which is why Equity, Diversity & Inclusion work in science is such a priority for me. Especially in these difficult times, we must not fear the darkness, we must learn to see in the dark instead."

- Miriam Diamond

Receiving the Polanyi Prize further celebrates the tremendous contributions of Prof. Diamond to the field of astroparticle physics and our understanding of the universe in general. Dark matter detection is notoriously difficult due to dark matter particles only interacting with ordinary matter through the gravitational force. Despite the elusive nature of dark matter, it makes up approximately a quarter our universe. Dark matter detection technique development and implementation is integral to discovering the true nature of dark matter and providing insight into the structure of our universe.

Prof. Diamond’s passion for dark matter detection and hands-on work with particle detectors bloomed during her MSc at Perimeter Institute. She followed that passion throughout her PhD and post-doctoral work. Now as an assistant professor, her group at UofT specializes in data acquisition, data quality management and low mass dark matter analysis. Prof. Diamond’s primary research area is low-mass dark matter searches, as a member of the SuperCDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) direct-detection experiment at SNOLAB.

Congratulations to Prof. Miriam Diamond! We look forward to your future accomplishments and contributions to astroparticle physics research in Canada.