Highlights of Research Excellence

Research Excellence - Slowpoke-2 Reactor

The SLOWPOKE-2 Facility at RMC provides a Centre of Excellence on nuclear matters within DND to meet related operational, educational and research needs in a classified environment. The reactor was commissioned in 1985 at RMC in Kingston. Since that time, the reactor has become a valued instrument for the CAF and a range of other government departments and international partners. The reactor provides an important capability for the Government of Canada by contributing to the education of CAF personnel, operational readiness, Canadian nuclear and radiological expertise, rapid response for environmental and nuclear forensics analysis, and nuclear emergency response. For over 30 years, the reactor’s uses have expanded to include support to new operational requirements, understanding of new threats, and contributing to Canadian Government expertise. For example, these efforts include research on Weapons of Mass Destruction, preparation of radioisotopes for nuclear technology training, and provision of expertise to support the Canadian delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna.

The reactor also enhances the education and research at RMC by providing an in situ hands-on experience for its undergraduate and graduate students. Staff at RMC use the reactor and it is supporting:

  • Undergraduate training and education of RMC officer cadets;
  • Post-graduate training of military officers;
  • Non-destructive evaluation of components, such as composite aircraft parts and cartridge activated initiators to ensure operational readiness;
  • Radiation monitoring for visiting NATO nuclear vessels in Canadian ports;
  • Development of small modular reactors to support energy demands in remote locations;
  • Cosmic radiation exposure studies of CAF and NATO flight crews; and
  • Forensic analysis of illicit special nuclear and radiological materials.

Currently the Crown owns three reactors: two are at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) and the third is at RMC. However, of the two reactors at the CRL, one reactor is only used for fundamental reactor physics measurements, while the second reactor, which was used to support the CANDU industry, was decommissioned on 31 March 2018. Unlike these two larger and dedicated research reactors, the smaller, simpler and safe reactor at RMC provides an accessible and multifunctional capability to the Defence Team. Direct access to the reactor by the CAF allows for in-house research to undertake classified work, meet time sensitive operational demands or to develop the cadre of nuclear and radiological expertise. Through the years, funds have been spent wisely to maintain and constantly improve the reactor (e.g. change from an analogue to a modern digital control system) and its capabilities (e.g. delayed neutron counting system (DNC), neutron radiography and in-pool irradiation), all developed in-house and unique to this reactor. Nuclear forensic capability developed at RMC ensures a unique role the CAF plays in the event of a nuclear/radiological event. This capability does not exist at any other facility in Canada. The DNC is recognized as an important national counter terrorism capability.

Research Excellence - Environmental Sciences Group

Founded in 1989, the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) is a unique, internationally recognized multi-disciplinary team providing scientific expertise for the management of contaminated sites to government organizations, scientists, private industry and international partners. The 75-person team includes 38 scientists and environmental experts (including eight PhD) specializing in contaminated site assessment, remediation, risk assessment and monitoring with a focus on remote sites and issues/contaminants of emerging concern. Projects are often large in scope and incorporate scientific outreach and communication, particularly involving Indigenous Peoples. For example ESG provided scientific leadership for the 25-year, $575M DND Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Cleanup Project. ESG has been recognized through many awards including two Deputy Minister of National Defence Commendations: for “…the creation of an internationally recognized center of excellence in environmental research” and for “work with Inuit and First Nations…and the restoration of Arctic contaminated sites”.

Since the program’s inception in 2005,ESG has continuously participated in the 4.5-billion dollar Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP). As a part of this initiative, ESG supports site custodians (e.g. DND, Parks Canada) and scientific expert support departments (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada) through the development of practical and scientifically sound approaches towards closing legacy contaminated sites and reducing federal liabilities. In 2016, ESG was engaged in 30 projects supported by the FCSAP. Novel tools employed in 2016 included real-time high-resolution contaminant mapping techniques to develop more accurate conceptual site models for remediation and risk management, and conducting source connectivity studies in a fractured rock environment. 2016/2017 Research Initiatives – Through support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and other granting agencies 37 graduate students, postdocs and research associates were trained and contributed to a number of scientific developments. The year saw developments in the area of emerging contaminants including the assessment, analysis, and remediation of perand polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS). In 2016 ESG’s director, Dr. Kela Weber, helped teach and organize a NATO international summer school in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the topic of underwater munitions. The fate of dumped and abandoned munitions in water bodies is a topic of developing concern worldwide. Significant 2016-2017 landmarks:

  • 100th Canadian Armed Forces deployed operation supported.
  • 500th ESG environmental professional hired.
  • 900th Technical report published.

Research Excellence - Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMHVR)

In 2010, the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) was co-founded by RMC and Queen’s University. CIMVHR has now built a network of over 1700 researchers, 43 Canadian universities and 10 global affiliates who have agreed to work together to address the health research requirements of military personnel, Veterans and their families.

RMC Professor, Dr. Stéphanie Bélanger is the Associate Scientific Director of the institute. She also instructs the annual CIMVHR webinar, Issues in the Health of Military Personnel Veterans and their Families, offered through RMC’s Masters of Public Administration program. In 2017, webinar students heard from 18 subject matter experts throughout the semester.

The official Journal of CIMVHR, the Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health (JMVFH), is an online, open access, scholarly journal. In 2017, 14 articles were published in two issues of JMVFH by 57 authors and co-authors from 29 organizations.

In 2017, the 8th Annual Military and Veteran Health Research Forum was hosted by CIMVHR in partnership with Invictus Games Toronto 2017. CIMVHR, the official research partner of the 2017 games, hosted the annual 3-day conference in Toronto overlapping with the games. CIMVHR Forum 2017 gathered researchers, clinicians, students, military, Veterans, first responders and industry to exchange valuable knowledge, optimize networking capacity, and build new collaborations focused on research initiatives that improve the health and well-being of Canadian military personnel, Veterans and their families. Over the course of the conference, 173 researchers delivered 198 research presentations to over 600 delegates.

The institute acts as a conduit between the academic community and research funding organizations. In 2017 alone, CIMVHR distributed eight calls for proposals from its Public Service and Procurement Canada contract, totaling $1.4M that were assigned to researchers from eight university members. In the same year, CIMVHR also funded seven research projects across Canadian universities under the Advanced Analytics Initiative, with IBM, at a total value of $12M.

CIMVHR: Serving those who serve us.

Research Excellence - Computer Security Laboratory

The RMC Computer Security Laboratory, commonly referred to as the CSL, is one of the foremost research groups tackling computer, network and cybersecurity research in Canada. The CSL is located in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at RMC and its researchers have many collaborations with colleagues from other RMC departments and many other universities. The CSL’s Primary Investigator is Dr. Scott Knight who founded the CSL in the late 1990s following a close collaboration with the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group.

The CSL is comprised of approximately 20 researchers. Dr. Knight is joined by five additional investigators, namely Dr. Sylvain Leblanc, Dr. Ron Smith, Dr. Greg Phillips, Dr. Vincent Roberge and Mr. Brian Lachine along with a large number of researchers and graduate students. CSL Investigators pride themselves in the applicability of their research in support of DND and the CAF. The CSL current research partners include the Royal Canadian Air Force (Directorate of Technical Airworthiness & Engineering Support), the Royal Canadian Navy (Directorate Naval Platform Systems), and the Canadian Army (Directorate Land Equipment Programme Support), along with the Canadian Force Information Operations Group, and other government departments such as the Canadian Forces Network Operations Centre (CFNOC), the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) and other government departments. The collaborations between the CSL and the Canadian Armed Forces’ Directorate of Cyber Operations Forces Development (D Cyber Ops FD) at National Defence Headquarders is such that a four-person detachment of D Cyber Ops FD is collocated with the CSL at RMC.

CSL investigators have researched in many traditional information technology areas such as intrusion detection, covert channel analysis and detection, as well as protocol and system vulnerability analysis. Research into the application of cyber security concepts to platforms such as weapon systems, aircraft, ships and land vehicles is the CSL most recent endeavour that has significant benefits to the CAF.

CSL Investigators are all heavily involved in the ECE’s undergraduate computer engineering programme and graduate programme where it is the sole provider of the officer specialty specification Computer Network Security (AKQX) for the CAF. Research also finds in the CSL’s Short Course Programme, which offers courses of five to ten days to members of the CAF, both non-commissioned members (NCM) and officers, as well as civilian employees from DND and other governmental departments, in situ at RMC Kingston or remotely in Ottawa.

The RMC Computer Security Laboratory – research applicable to Canada’s defence community!

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