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Women & Girls: These Sudbury researchers are real cool customers

SNOLAB researchers Juliette DeLoye and Nasim Fatemighomi work in the field of cryogenics and were recently honoured for their work by the Cryogenic Society of America
Nasim Fatemighomi (left) is a staff scientist at SNOLAB, while Juliette DeLoye, is a Master's candidate in Applied Science in Engineering at Laurentian University. They have been honoured for their work in cryogenics research at SNOLAB.

Two Sudbury researchers were recently honoured for their work in the field of cryogenics at Sudbury’s SNOLAB, the deep underground research laboratory located two kilometres underground at Vale’s Creighton mine.

Juliette DeLoye and Nasim Fatemighomi were among a group of women featured in the Cold Facts online magazine and honoured by the Cryogenic Society of America.  

Cryogenics is a science that studies the production and behavior of materials at extreme low temperatures. 

Deloye, a Laurentian University master's candidate, said Cold Facts had featured Sudbury's SNOLAB facility in a previous article after a liquid nitrogen plant was installed in the underground laboratory there. She said that's when the magazine was also working to feature women who work with cryogenics as part of a feature for International Women's Day

DeLoye said she was pleased that she and Fatemighomi were selected to be part of that story.

"It is a fantastic way to show women that you can make it in STEM (science, technology, engineering. mathematics), and that there is a place for us,” she said. “Getting to be involved as a young woman — who only recently joined the STEM workforce after my undergraduate degree — and already getting to share that small bit with the world has been huge for me. It’s also just so exciting to see the women behind some of these ground-breaking and innovative experiments."

Fatemighomi, a staff scientist at SNOLAB, agreed. She said she was pleased that the article featured so many women from different backgrounds "to show that women from different career paths can enter these challenging fields and that the number of professional women in this field is increasing."

She was also happy that the story could inspire younger women to consider similar roles.

"I hope that featuring online like this will encourage more women to consider a career in STEM, including in the field of cryogenics."

Fatemighomi said it helps that she finds her work interesting and satisfying, working with things like a dark matter liquid argon detector and using liquid nitrogen to trap radon atoms.

"I am involved in developing and executing challenging techniques to reduce unwanted noise in our experiments. I think it is exciting that I am one of the few people who is an expert in some of these techniques and that I execute them two kilometers underground at SNOLAB,” Fatemighomi said. “I am also involved in training undergraduate and graduate students, which I find very satisfying.”

DeLoye said she too was pleased with the nature of her work.

"My main project in the Master’s degree is mitigating radon with the SNO+ experiment that I work on. We go deep underground to reduce cosmic rays that are constantly bombarding the surface of the Earth," she said. 

She said another pursuit is the study of finding ways to use liquid nitrogen to cool the working environment in deep hardrock mines.

"We are lucky in the lab that we have air conditioning due to the needs of the experiments. However, mines can be quite warm,” Deloye said. “We recently had a group interested in how we safely use large amounts of liquid nitrogen in an underground setting. They were investigating the potential use to cool mines with the use of liquid nitrogen."

Both researchers commented that in the fields of hard science, it would be welcoming to have more young women pursuing careers.

"I think we need to work toward changing the culture which is based on gender stereotyping. This field and similar fields in STEM are accessible to everyone and are very rewarding," said Fatemighomi.

Role models have been hugely influential for DeLoye and she said she hopes she can do that for others.

"Not necessarily just students, but anyone that I get to currently work with, or in my free-time and through volunteering. I believe it’s so important to set a good example and try to be a leader within the community."

Len Gillis is a reporter at Women & Girls is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.

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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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