Saint Mary’s professor receives national award for her contributions to subatomic physics

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo

Saint Mary’s University physicist Dr. Rituparna Kanungo’s outstanding research is being recognized with the 2018 CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal for Contributions to Subatomic Physics.

"I feel highly honoured receiving this prestigious recognition which I would like to share with my collaborators,” said Dr. Rituparna Kanungo. “Canada’s world-leading subatomic physics facilities attracted me here, thanks to the pioneering efforts by Erich Vogt. I feel fortunate with the support I received, and want to thank the physics community and Canada for valuing my contributions."

Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo working with students. 

Dr. Kanungo’s research aims to answer fundamental questions about existence. Where do we come from? What are we and most of visible matter in our Universe made of? To address those questions, Dr. Kanungo looks at not only what humans are made of but everything else that we can see around us. At the heart of which lies the nucleus. The nucleus is such a fundamental part of existence that it has driven Dr. Kanungo to look closer to examine the different types of nuclei present in matter and what makes them so varied. This has led her to look beyond nuclei found here naturally on earth and look toward the wider variety, the rarer isotopes occurring in the Universe.

Dr. Kanungo launched her research program in rare isotope science with experiments at the RIKEN facility in Japan where she developed techniques to investigate the structure of rare isotopes using neutron removal reactions. Her work has revealed new information on nuclear halos and associated shell changes. 

She has spearheaded a program in Canada using low energy nuclear reactions to view the inner workings of the rare isotopes. For this she developed at TRIUMF the IRIS facility to study nuclear reactions and is the project leader. With IRIS she has made impactful measurements revealing sensitive ways to constrain the strong nuclear force of nature and illuminated characteristics of halo nuclei. Dr. Kanungo has taken on leadership of the Canadian Rare Isotope Beam Facility with an Electron Beam Ion source (CANREB) for producing beams of heavy rare isotopes, focusing on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF

Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo working with students in a lab at Saint Mary's University

Dr. Kanungo has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of the physics of rare isotopes using direct reactions. She has led experiments involving large international collaborations in Canada, Germany, and Japan exploring the properties of rare isotopes. She is at the forefront of a rapidly evolving new field of direct reactions with radioactive ion beams. In addition, she has provided leadership and service to the international and Canadian communities, with a particular focus on current and future scientific programs at TRIUMF.

“This award is a result of a collaborative effort, from the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students to my incredibly experienced colleagues and researchers—everybody has played a role, and I tremendously value everything that they have done to support achieving our goals,” said Dr. Kanungo. "I would like to thank NSERC, Canada Foundation for Innovation and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust for supporting our research."

First introduced in 2011, the Vogt Medal recognizes and encourages outstanding experimental or theoretical contributions to subatomic physics.

Dr. Kanungo will be presented with her medal at the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Medallists' Recognition Banquet in Halifax on Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

Congratulation to Dr. Kanungo on behalf of the Saint Mary’s University community!


TRIUMF is Canada’s particle accelerator centre. The lab is a hub for discovery and innovation inspired by a half-century of ingenuity in answering nature's most challenging questions. From the hunt for the smallest particles in our universe to research that advances the next generation of batteries or develops isotopes to diagnose and treat disease, TRIUMF drives more than scientific discovery. Powered by its complement of top talent and advanced accelerator infrastructure, TRIUMF is pushing the frontiers in isotope science and innovation, as well as technologies to address fundamental and applied problems in particle and nuclear physics, and the materials and life sciences. In collaboration with 20 Canadian universities, TRIUMF's diverse community of nearly 600 multidisciplinary researchers, engineers, technicians, tradespeople, staff, and students create a unique incubator for Canadian excellence, as well as a portal to premier global collaborations. Our passion for understanding everything from the nature of the nucleus to the creation of the cosmos sparks imagination, inspiration, improved health, economic opportunity, and a better world for all.

For more information, visit  and @TRIUMFLab

Click here to read the CAP media release on the award.