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TRIUMF Welcomes SNOLAB's New Director

12 January 2009

SNOLAB announced today the appointment of Nigel Smith as the new Director of the SNOLAB International Underground Science Facility, effective June 1, 2009. As the Deputy Divisional Head (Precision Weak Physics) and Group Leader (Dark Matter) at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England, Dr. Smith will contribute a great depth of experience and proficiency in underground science. His role as Project Manager for the Boulby Underground Facility and the ZEPLIN III Dark Matter experiment as well as Professor at Imperial College in London, England has prepared him to take on a new challenge. After six months of searching and evaluating candidates, an international selection committee recommended him for the leadership position.

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in physics (1985) and a Ph.D. in astrophysics (1991) at Leeds University, Nigel Smith became a lecturer at his alma mater and a Research Associate at Imperial College, London. He then moved on to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as Group Leader (Dark Matter) in 1998. Dr. Smith has also had the opportunity of working in the South Pole as the sole operator of an air shower array telescope at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott station. Since 1992 he has been actively involved in the development and operation of underground detectors to search for the Weakly Interacting Dark Matter particles left over from the Big Bang and thought to make up about 23% of the Universe. As leader of the research program at the Boulby underground facility in Northern England, he participated in the development of a progression of detection techniques with increasing sensitivity that have led to the present ZEPLIN III detector based on liquid xenon. Dr. Smith currently participates in international committees as the Co-Chair of the ASPERA Dark Matter Working Group and a member of the Institute of Astroparticle Physics Group Committee.

In regards to this new opportunity, Dr.Smith asserts “SNOLAB is a fantastic Canadian research laboratory that is attracting some of the best international astroparticle physics experiments in the world. Its extreme depth and cleanliness provides an ultra-low background environment in which to perform these exquisite measurements. It’s a great privilege, and wonderfully exciting, to be given the opportunity to serve as Director of SNOLAB and I really look forward to working with the great team there to continue to develop its strong and world-leading research programme.”

Building on a history of strong collaboration, TRIUMF looks forward to working with Dr. Smith and SNOLAB on future endeavors in these exciting fields of science.

Based on SNOLAB's Press Release
Maria Jose Crousillat
TRIUMF's Communications Assistant