Government of Canada research award draws physics ‘star’ to Canada

Dr. Gilles Gerbier’s research will shed new light on dark matter, the little-known building block of the universe

September 26, 2014—Kingston, Ontario—Chairs Secretariat

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) was at Queen’s University today to introduce Dr. Gilles Gerbier, one of the world’s foremost particle astrophysicists. Dr. Gerbier has come to Canada from the French Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay, France, where he was director of research. Dr. Gerbier becomes the 20th Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) chairholder.

Since its launch in 2008, the CERC program has positioned Canada as an international leader and destination of choice for research and development, and the program continues to attract and retain world-leading researchers.

Quick facts

  • This is Queen’s University’s first CERC.
  • The university will receive up to $10 million in funding over seven years to support Gerbier and his team’s ambitious research program. An additional $800,000 for research infrastructure will be provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
  • Dr. Gerbier’s work will try to shed light on one of the universe’s most challenging mysteries—that of dark matter. According to the current hypothesis, dark matter makes up some 80 per cent of the Universe’s mass. But proving it exists has been difficult. Many of Gerbier's team’s experiments will be conducted at SNOLAB—one of the world’s deepest underground laboratories, located two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury.
  • With this announcement, there are now 20 CERC chairs in place at 15 universities across the country.
  • The CERC Program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is administered by the Chairs Secretariat, housed within SSHRC.


“The Harper Government is focused on developing, attracting, and retaining world-leading researchers through record investments in science, technology and innovation. Dr. Gilles Gerbier’s research into dark matter will explore mysteries about the building blocks of the universe; develop new industrial applications for technology; and train the next generation of highly talented Canadian researchers.”

Ed Holder
Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“The holders of Canada Excellence Research Chairs are some of the world’s leading minds. Their presence on Canada’s campuses serves to strengthen Canada’s position as an international leader in research, and helps train the next generation of talented researchers.”

Ted Hewitt
Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

“Through the CERC program, Canada has attracted a world-renowned researcher to further bolster our strong reputation in particle astrophysics and strengthen our research linkages with Europe. Using one of the premier underground research facilities in the world, Canada’s SNOLAB, Dr. Gerbier will be pursuing answers to one of the greatest mysteries of our universe – dark matter, while at the same time exploring and developing new applications for the technologies this research is generating.”

Janet Walden
Chief Operating Officer, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

“Considering his remarkable career, Dr. Gerbier brings the expertise that will propel Canada’s particle astrophysics community into new territory. The sophisticated tools he develops at SNOLAB will not only further our understanding of dark matter, but will also serve as prototypes for new industrial instruments and applications that may one day transform our lives.”

Gilles Patry
President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation

“Attracting Dr. Gerbier—one of the world’s leading particle astrophysics researchers—to Queen’s University offers tremendous benefits, not only for our scholarly community, but for all Canadians. His research into the mysteries of “dark matter” will deepen our understanding of the universe’s vast complexities while his work with colleagues at SNOLAB will strengthen international research ties and secure the reputations of both Queen’s and Canada as leaders in the field.”

Steven Liss
Vice-Principal (Research), Queen’s University

Additional links


Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Honourable Ed Holder
Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 613-943-6177

Michael Adams
Communications Adviser
Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program
Tel: 613-944-1758

Michael Bhardwaj
Media Relations Specialist
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Tel: 613-943-5346

Anne Craig
Communications Officer
Queen’s University
Tel: 613-533-2877