Pekka K. Sinervo, C.M., FRSC

Brief CV

B.Sc., University of Toronto (1980); Ph.D., Stanford University, USA, (1986). Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Pennsylvania, USA (1986-1988); Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania, USA (1988-1990); Associate Professor, University of Toronto (1990); Professor, University of Toronto (1995-); Rutherford Memorial Medal and Prize (1996), Royal Society of Canada; Chair, Department of Physics (1997-2000); Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1999); Vice-Dean, Research Infrastructure and Graduate Education, Faculty of Arts and Science (2000-2002); Vice-Dean, Academic, Faculty of Arts and Science (2003); Fellow of the American Physical Society (2004); Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science (2004-2008); Rosi and Max Varon Visiting Professor, Weizmann Institute of Science (2008-2009); Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012); Senior Vice-President, Research, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (2009-2015); Member of the Order of Canada (2018). 

Full CV: April 2018  Brief CV: April 2018

Research Interests

I am working to understand the basic building blocks of our universe and the forces that cause them to interact and create the complex structures that we see as atoms and molecules. In the past several decades, the Standard Model of the electroweak and strong forces has become the theory that appears to successfully describe most of the matter around us, and provides an excellent description of the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces. My research tests this model by studying particle interactions at very high energies.  At the same time, it fails to describe gravity, dark matter, dark energy or the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in our universe.

My work today is focused on measurements at the Large Hadron Collider, where we are able to collide particles together at the highest energies possible. I am a member of the ATLAS Toronto group, the largest Canadian group working on the ATLAS experiment  with over two dozen members.  We are also members of the ATLAS collaboration, an intimate and collegial group of 3,000 of our closest colleagues. Together, we have built the ATLAS detector, and use it to record the 13 TeV proton-proton collisions created by the LHC.   I am also a member of the SuperCDMS collaboration, which is searching for dark matter at SNOLAB.

My work from 1986 to about 2008 was focused on similar sorts of collisions created by the Fermilab Tevatron Collider, but at a lower energy of 2 TeV and recorded by the CDF detector.

I have particularly interested in the top quark, the heaviest known particle. My group was involved in its discovery, and has participated in many of the measurements of its properties. We are now using the top quark as a tool to search for evidence of new, very massive particles that preferentially decay to top quark pairs. This work is currently using ATLAS data.

The Standard Model has many "holes" in it -- it doesn't tell us what dark matter is, it doesn't help us understand gravity, it doesn't tell us why there are so many different types of quarks and leptons and it doesn't tell us why we appear to live in a matter-dominated universe. I'd like to fill in answers to some of these fundamental questions and hope to do so using data we will collect with ATLAS  and with the SuperCDMS detector at SNOLAB over the next several years.

Detector R & D

My hardware interests have been data acquisition technologies for hadron collider detectors, digital front-end electronics systems, and off-line software development. Much of this work is performed in close collaboration with groups in Canada and the US with similar interests.

I have been also been involved in the development of pixel detectors for the ATLAS detector, the development of a precision positioning system for tracker detectors and the construction and calibration of calorimeters, which measure the energy of the particles produced in the collisions we record. 

Statistical Techniques in Particle Physics

I have been involved in the development and use of advanced statistical techniques in particle physics, with particular emphasis on multivariate analyses and setting confidence intervals.  We have recently been investigating machine learning techniques for application in particle physics.

I wrote a report describing the statistical techniques used to make the most precise estimate of the top quark production cross section. I have also written a review article on the use of "significance" in particle physics analyses.

My earlier work involved the development of the SLAC/LBL Partial Wave Analysis system (see my thesis for more details!) and the first searches for the top quark on this side of the Atlantic.


I am teaching or recently taught the following courses:

Recent Talks

The following is a selection of recent talks I have given:

Recent Manuscripts

Most of my peer-reviewed publications are multi-authored papers where I have had secondary or tertiary roles. The following are a subset of the more recent papers that I have been a primary author, typically in collaboration with one of my students or postdoctoral fellows:


Here is a full list of all the papers that I have authored or co-authored, sorted by citation count.

Other Links of Potential Interest?


I'm not formally supervising any postdoctoral fellows, though working with several in the ATLAS Canada group on specific projects. 

Graduate Students

I'm primary supervisor for the following students:

  • Joel Foo, who is working on developing the detailed simulation of the new ATLAS tracking system, the ITk, as well as searches for new heavy vector-like quarks;
  • Chris Garner, who is working on jet modelling and performance studies;
  • Ovidiu Miu, who is working on jet calibration studies using photon+jet events and top-quark pair differential cross-section measurements; and
  • Sahibjeet Singh, who is working on top quark mass measurements at ATLAS.
  • Spencer Keller, working on SuperCDMS simulation.


The following are some of my former doctoral students:

Prof. Pekka Sinervo

Prof. Pekka Sinervo

Experimental High Energy Physics

Telephone: (416) 978-5270
Fax: (416) 978-8221