Particle physics team looks forward to working with TRIUMF

York particle physicist Sampa Bhadra has already figured out how she intends to spend her next sabbatical leave when it comes in 2013 – she’s hoping to visit British Columbia so she can spend some quality time at a subatomic research facility that’s larger than two city blocks and houses the biggest cyclotron in the world. It will be the ultimate busman’s holiday as she takes part in research into the tiniest secrets of the universe along with scientific colleagues at TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics.

Sampa BhadraRight: Sampa Bhadra

While there, Bhadra, a professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, will also visit with York alumnus Nigel Lockyer (BSc Spec. Hons. ’75), director of TRIUMF, in which York became a partner July 1 (see YFile, July 2). The two met 22 years ago at another subatomic research facility, Fermilab, near Chicago, and established a networking connection that made York’s eventual partnership in TRIUMF possible.

When Lockyer became director in 2007 (see YFile, March 20, 2007), he accepted an invitation from then president Lorna Marsden to visit York’s Keele campus and meet the University’s growing team of particle physicists. When he arrived, Lockyer was in the early stages of a campaign to promote membership in TRIUMF to Canadian universities. He quickly recruited Bhadra to champion the idea at York, along with Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation, and Michael Siu, associate vice-president research, science & technology, and she is now York’s representative on TRIUMF’s Policy & Planning Advisory Committee. York became an associate member of the consortium in September 2008 (see YFile, Sept. 16, 2008).

 Wendy Taylor  Scott Menary
Taylor Menary

The Faculty of Science & Engineering has seven researchers, members of York’s Experimental High Energy Physics group, who will benefit from the association with TRIUMF, says Bhadra. She and fellow experimentalists Scott Menary and Wendy Taylor are the York principal investigators for several projects around the world and the Canadian leaders of these experiments reside at TRIUMF.

York theorists Roman Koniuk, Randy Lewis and Kim Maltman have also collaborated closely with TRIUMF physicists, either as staff and/or on sabbatical. The newest member of York’s particle physics group is theorist Veronica Sanz-Gonzalez, who joined York this year from Boston University.

Roman Koniuk  Randy Lewis Kim Maltman Veronica Sanz-Gonzalez
Koniuk Lewis Maltman Sanz-Gonzalez

“Our connection to TRIUMF is long overdue,” says Bhadra. “It’s a great meeting place for scientific discussions; it’s a concentration of experts. The synergy is fantastic right now.”

The benefits of York’s membership will soon be felt at the Keele campus when Lia Merminga, director of TRIUMF’s accelerator division, makes a visit to York in November. “York and TRIUMF will be exploring joint intitiatives that will have
long-reaching benefits for both institutions,” says Bhadra.

TRIUMF “is a value statement by Canada about the long-term importance of strategic investments in science, technology and innovation,” said Lockyer in a director’s message. “TRIUMF’s accomplishments in basic research (particle and nuclear physics, molecular and materials science, nuclear medicine and information technology), international partnerships and commercial successes with Canadian companies are the proof behind this statement.”

Nigel LockyerRight: Nigel Lockyer

TRIUMF’s Isotope Separator and Accelerator Complex is recognized as the world’s most advanced laboratory for the production of exotic or “medical” isotopes. While not using the accelerator complex itself, Bhadra and her colleagues have access to the excellent resources provided by TRIUMF in terms of expertise in electronics, computing and engineering support.

TRIUMF’s accelerator division has long been recognized as one of the world’s best and has contributed hardware and expertise to CERN, the international consortium based in Switzerland that is home to the world’s largest particle accelerator.

For more information about TRIUMF, visit its Web site.