A Grenfell Campus physicist has played a major role in the creation of a subatomic physics long range plan for the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics, raising the campus’s profile in the process.
Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, a faculty member in Grenfell’s physics program, led the quantum chromodynamics/hadrons scientific working group on the white paper committee, along with four other working group chairs from across the country, representing nuclear astrophysics, nuclear structure, fundamental symmetries and education and training.
“This long-range plan is the result of extensive consultations with the nuclear physics community and is our vision for subatomic physics in Canada for the next five years and onward,” she said.
Long-term and international context
According to the white paper’s introduction, the duty of the committee was to “gather community input and prepare a document placing the Canadian nuclear physics contributions within a long-term and international context, and make some overall recommendations.
It states: “We hope that it will be of value to the Canadian Subatomic Physics Long Range Planning Committee as it works to establish the vision and goals for the whole subatomic physics community in Canada.”
Dr. Barkanova was especially pleased that Grenfell Campus was highlighted in Section 5.2 of the report, which focuses on outreach.
A graduate and a current student at Grenfell Campus contributed examples of how Grenfell’s outreach activities supported their future careers. A Grenfell alumna and a Grenfell current student are quoted in the white paper.
“I’m currently a PhD candidate in the Netherlands using a supercomputer to simulate the atmospheric boundary layer and large-scale wind farms,” stated Jessica Strickland, a holder of a bachelor of science degree from Memorial.
“However, my first research projects were in subatomic physics, with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/Institute of Particle Physics/European Organization for Nuclear Research summer awards. Though the physics I do now is more applied, I wouldn’t be here without the foundation that I received at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland. The professors always had an open door, put in the time and genuinely wanted us to succeed. Not only did I gain research and computing skills which I use to this day, but I also learned that great things were not out of reach.”
“Drs. Aleksandrs Aleksejevs and Svetlana Barkanova are the only two subatomic physicists in the province, both at Grenfell Campus, and I was lucky to have them as my mentors,” stated current Grenfell student Nicholas O’Neil.
“Their classroom environments allow students to be comfortable and develop confidence, along with the aspiration to become physicists. They encourage their students to network extensively and provide funded research opportunities and summer scholarships. As an Indigenous student, being funded for the summer has brought me incredible research and learning opportunities, such as working to develop theory input for an experiment at Jefferson Laboratory. Being a minority in the field can be sometimes difficult, but with the guidance of Drs. Aleksejevs and Barkanova, who is also a huge advocate for women within the STEM community, there has been an increase in the number of research opportunities and the number of physics students, so I feel much more like a part of a team now.”
Co-operation and communication
Dr. Barkanova’s integrative approach to STEM outreach (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by combining science and culture was also highlighted, as well as a program led by her in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s PromoScience, Qalipu First Nation, Parks Canada, and N.L. Hydro.
The program features female and Indigenous role models, engages in Indigenous storytelling, discusses a wide range of career opportunities and emphasizes a diverse set of skills required in modern science, such as co-operation and communication.
“It is wonderful that Dr. Barkanova’s work and Grenfell Campus are featured so prominently in this Canadian plan,” said Dr. Michele Piercey-Normore, dean, School of Science and the Environment. “Our campus is well represented among the leaders in the world of nuclear physics.”