Dr. Nigel Smith

Executive Director

SNOLAB’s leadership team is headed by Nigel Smith, who holds overall accountability for the performance of the laboratory and fulfillment of the expectations set by the SNOLAB Institute Board of Directors. Smith sets the overall scientific strategy for SNOLAB, represents the laboratory to external communities, and is the chief spokesperson for the lab.

Research Interests 

Nigel Smith joined SNOLAB as Director during July 2009. He currently holds a full Professorship at Laurentian University, adjunct Professor status at Queen’s University, and a visiting Professorial chair at Imperial College, London. He received his Bachelor of Science in physics from Leeds University in the U.K. in 1985 and his Ph. D. in astrophysics from Leeds in 1991. He has served as a lecturer at Leeds University, a research associate at Imperial College London, group leader (dark matter) and deputy division head at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, before relocating to Canada to oversee the SNOLAB deep underground facility.

Dr. Smith has studied astroparticle physics in extreme locations throughout his career, studying astronomical sources of ultra high energy gamma rays using a telescope at the South Pole, searching for Galactic dark matter using detectors located 1100m underground at the Boulby facility in the U.K., and subsequently overseeing dark matter and neutrinos studies 2km underground at the SNOLAB facility in Canada. In 1987 he “wintered-over” as the sole operator of the telescope at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, being the first Briton to successfully winter at the Pole itself.

As Director, Dr. Smith has full operational responsibility for the SNOLAB underground facility hosted at the Vale Creighton mine, supporting a fully international science programme. He has responsibility for deriving facility funding, overseeing management and operations, and development of the science programme itself. He supports the scientific community by serving on several (currently 9) peer review, agency science strategy and institute board and oversight committees. 

Professional Engagements

Professional Qualifications and Awards

  • Member of Canadian Institute of Particle Physics, Professional Physicist                        2009, 2015
  • Member of Canadian Association of Physics                                                                    2009
  • Science and Engineering Ambassador (STEMNET)                                                        2008
  • Member of the International Astronomical Union, and COSPAR                                      2006
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society                                                                         1995
  • Member of the Institute of Physics, Chartered Physicist                                                   1993
  • US Congressional medal and winter-over bar for Antarctic duties                                    1988

Professional Positions and Committee Membership

  • Member, KEK Project Implementation Plan Advisory Committee                                        2016 – present
  • Member, TRIUMF Policy and Programme Advisory Committee                                          2015 – present
  • Member, Boulby Underground Facility Science Advisory Board                                          2015 – present
  • Member, Oxford University Department of Particle Physics Advisory Board                       2015 – present
  • Member, Fermilab LBNF/DUNE Long Baseline Neutrino Committee (LBNC)                     2015 – present
  • Member, JingPing Laboratory International Advisory Committee                                        2014 – present
  • Member, Kavli IPMU, Tokyo, External Advisory Committee                                                2012 – present
  • Member, Canadian Light Source Science Advisory Committee                                           2011 – 2016
  • Board Member, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation                                                2010 – 2016
  • Member, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, LDRD Review Panel                               2013 – 2015
  • Member, DUSEL PRD Technical Review Committee                                                          2009 – 2010
  • Member, STFC consultation panel (astroparticle physics)                                                   2008
  • Member, PP2020 particle physics promotion group                                                             2007 – 2009
  • Member, IOP Astroparticle Physics Group committee                                                         2006 – 2009
  • Co-chair, ASPERA Dark Matter Working Group                                                                   2006 – 2008
  • Member, CCLRC Science and Technology Strategy Consultation Group                            2006
  • Member, German Transregional Neutrino Research Centre Review Group                        2006, 2009
  • Chair, CCLRC Science Business Unit Science Strategy Group                                           2005 – 2006
  • Co-ordinator (of 4), Centre for Fundamental Physics, CCLRC                                            2004 – 2009
  • ApPEC European Astro-particle Physics Co-ordination Peer Review                                 2002 – 2008
  • Scientific Secretary, CLRC Laboratory Executive Board                                                     2005 – 2006
  • Member, UK Particle Physics User Advisory Committee (to CCLRC)                                 2002 – 2004  
  • US NSF NESS Underground Laboratory Dark Matter Review                                            2002
  • Member, PPARC Projects Peer Review Panel                                                                    2001 – 2004
  • Scientific secretary, CLRC Quinquennial Review Stage 1 Review                                      2000 – 2001
  • UK Dark Matter Collaboration Management Boards                                                           1998 – 2009
  • National and international proposal peer review (UK, Fr, Ca, In, Ge, Pt)                            2002 – Present
  • Journal peer review (astroparticle physics)                                                                         2006 – Present

Conference/Workshop programme advisory committees

  • (IDM, Royal Society, NNN, INPC, CAP Congress, TAUP, SSP, Neutrino, WNPC, ICHEP)

Major Invited Conference Review Talks

  • Plenary Review (SNOLAB Science), CAP2014, Sudbury                                      2014
  • Plenary Review (dark matter), ICRC13, Rio de Janeiro                                         2013
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), ICATPP Villa Olmo, Como               2013
  • STFC Rutherford Laboratory Lawson lecture (public lecture)                                2012
  • Invited Review (liquid noble dark matter), DarkAttack!, Ascona                             2012
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), CIPANP, St.Petersberg                    2012
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), LowNu11, Seoul                               2011
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), TAUP, Munich                                   2011
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), ICHEP10, Athens                             2010
  • Plenary Review (underground laboratories), INPC, Vancouver                             2010
  • Plenary Review (dark matter), Lepton Photon 09                                                  2009
  • Invited Review (dark matter), RAS, London                                                           2008
  • Plenary Review (dark matter), PASCOS, London                                                  2007
  • Invited Lecture (dark matter), ISPR-10, Coimbra                                                   2006
  • Plenary Review (dark matter), Neutrino2006, Sante Fe                                         2006
  • Invited Review (dark matter) NAM, Milton Keynes                                                 2004
  • Invited Review (dark matter) IAU2003, Sydney                                                      2003
  • Royal Institution Friday Discourse                                                                          2002
  • Invited Review (dark Matter) PSD6,  Leicester                                                       2002
  • Plenary Review (low energy astrophysics) ICHEP00, Osaka                                 2000



Current research projects

Previous research projects