Pekka K. Sinervo, C.M., FRSC

Experimental particle physicist searching for dark matter at SNOLAB and studying high-energy proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider

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). 

Brief CV April 2023  Full CV April 2023

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. The Standard Model fails to describe gravity, dark matter, dark energy or the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in our universe.

I am searching for dark matter, something appears to comprise about 85% of our universe.  As it is expected to interact very weakly with matter, the search is taking place 2 km underground at the SNOLAB Underground Laboratory.  I am a member of the SuperCDMS collaboration, which is assembling what we hope will be the most sensitive search for dark matter using silicon or germanium crystals cooled down to almost absolute zero (30 mK).  I am also involved in 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.

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 been 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 have used the top quark as a tool to search for evidence of new, very massive particles that preferentially decay to top quark pairs.

High Performance and Large Scale Computation

I am an expert in high-performance and large-scale computing.  I have developed software codes to perform complex analyses of data, recconstruction of signals coming out of calorimeter and tracking detectors, and systems level software involving both hardware devices and network-based approaches.

I currently serve as chair of the CERN committee that makes recommendations on the allocation of the computing resources of the World-wide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG).  Known as the Computing Resources Scrutiny Group, the committee recommends to the CERN funding agencies how resources should be allocated on an annual basis. Currently, we oversee the utilization of over one million cores, over 1 XB of disk space and close to 2 XB of tape storage.

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 supervisor for Dr. Madeleine Zurowski, a post-doctoral fellow working on the SuperCDMS Experiment.

Graduate Students

I'm primary supervisor for the following students:

  • Joel Foo, who has completed the first search for a new heavy vector-like quark produced singly in proton-proton collisions and decaying to a top quark and a Higgs boson;
  • 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;
  • Sahibjeet Singh, who is working on top quark mass measurements at ATLAS; and
  • 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