Message from the Chair - May 2021

The Winter 2021 term has come to an end, and the Department of Physics has continued to deliver courses online, and research in experimental physics has continued under strict pandemic rules. Despite these challenges, activity in the department has continued to advance.

Dear alumni, colleagues, students, and friends,

The Winter 2021 term has come to an end, and the Department of Physics has continued to deliver courses online, and research in experimental physics has continued under strict pandemic rules. I am aware that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on students, researchers, technicians, and support staff. I hope for some return to normality in the fall as the province continues with its vaccination program. Despite these challenges, activity in the department has continued to advance.

CFI funded projects 

Several physics faculty members secured funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation as either principal researchers or co-investigators, which speaks highly of our research programs and collaborative initiatives. Congratulations to Frank Hegmann, who together with Jacob Burgess (University of Manitoba), has secured a CFI grant for Ultrafast Nanoscale Quantum Dynamics (UltraNanoQD) Innovation for a total of $9.7 million. Ian Mann has secured a CFI for a total of $20.4 million for RADiation Impacts on Climate and Atmospheric Loss Satellite (RADICALS), which will be undertaken in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Calgary. Michael Woodside and Davis Westaway (Medicine)  secured funding for a project worth $9.5 for Protein Misfolding Scientific Exploration (ProMiSE). John Davis is the University of Alberta principal investigator of A Quantum Diamond and Hybrid Photonics (QDHyP) Foundry led by Dr. Paul Barclay, who is a faculty member at the University of Calgary and also adjunct professor in our department. Aksel Hallin is the Alberta principal investigator for Development of Next Generation Liquid Argon Dark Matter Detector and of an Underground Argon Storage Facility at SNOLAB led by Mark Boulay (Carleton) for a total of $22.6 million. Erik Rosolwsky is a co-investigator on a $28.8 million University of Waterloo-led project called CCAT-prime: A Submillimetre Wavelength Survey Telescope in Chile. Congratulations to all. This funding is truly instrumental to advance our department research portfolio.

Undergraduate researchers 

Undergraduate students can also participate in active research projects. Many students have reported that hands-on research helps them understand and apply fundamental principles of physics. Our spring newsletter features four undergraduate students who have earned publishing credits or presentation awards. This is a small sample of research carried out by our undergraduates in both experimental and theoretical physics. In many instances, this research leads to publications. The Department of Physics maintains a list of articles published by undergraduates, and I would like to invite you to check out the type of work our undergraduates have been producing. We are proud of them!

We are seeking a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in the area of astroparticle physics to strengthen our efforts in neutrino physics and our association with the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute. Given the current fiscal environment, I feel appreciation for the generosity of the Faculty of Science who understands the importance of continually renewing our department. The CRC-2 position is also part of our effort to address diversity in the Department of Physics. Please share the posting or submit an application if applicable.

New scholarship for graduate students

I would also like to announce the creation of a new scholarship, the Teresa Brychcy Graduate Award in Physics. This is possible with the generous support of Teresa Brychcy. The scholarship will help women graduates in physics. We thank her so much for her continued support of the Department of Physics and the University of Alberta.

Statement on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Thanks to Claire Currie, who led a team which revised the Department of Physics's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement. We acknowledge past biases, and commit to creating a culture that ensures equitable and inclusive participation by all.

Announcing the next Chair of the Department of Physics

Finally, I would like to congratulate Roger Moore, who was selected to succeed me as the chair of the Department of Physics. Roger is an accomplished scientist, educator, and administrator, and the department is in good hands. Roger is an experimental particle physicist with vast experience in university governance and the administration and development of our undergraduate curricula. During the years we have worked together, Roger, in his capacity as associate chair for undergraduate studies, has demonstrated professionalism and collegiality while addressing the most challenging teaching assignments. Roger’s appointment will begin on July 1, 2021.

I would like to say that it has been a pleasure to have chaired our department since 2010. I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me. As of July 1, 2021, I will be back in my third-floor office completing research on several projects, derusting my programming skills, preparing lectures for the Fall Term, and looking forward to returning to an everyday scholarly life!

I invite you to read our newsletter and find out what the department has been doing during these unusual times.


Mauricio D Sacchi
Chair, Department of Physics