New program aims to bridge gap between high school and grad school

Perimeter’s new undergraduate summer program will broaden horizons for top physics students.

Next summer, 20 of the world’s top undergraduate physics students will immerse themselves in Perimeter’s dynamic research environment as part of the inaugural Undergraduate Theoretical Physics Summer Program at Perimeter Institute.

Open to students entering their final year of an undergraduate physics degree, the program will introduce participants to exciting problems in the field and the researchers working on them. Students will spend two weeks during the summer taking in lectures from leading international physicists and experiencing the full breadth of Perimeter’s research environment by attending conferences, group meetings, and talks.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this program, which allows us to bring talented, motivated, and creative undergraduate students from Canada and around the world to Perimeter,” said James Forrest, Director of Academic Programs at Perimeter.

“A program like this for undergraduates is something we have wanted to offer for some time, so we are very much looking forward to welcoming our first class in May 2019.”

The new program will bridge the gap between Perimeter’s International Summer School for Young Physicists, aimed at high school students, and the Perimeter Scholars International graduate-level training. In addition to research training, the program will showcase the applicability of physics to other areas of science research and the opportunities that physics training offers beyond research and academia.

To ensure all exceptionally qualified students are able to attend, the program has no fee for application or attendance. Travel to and from the students’ home cities will be paid for, as will all meals and accommodation.

The program is partly funded by husband and wife Michael Serbinis and Laura Adams. Serbinis is a serial tech entrepreneur and Perimeter Board member, best known as the co-founder and CEO of Kobo, a digital reading company. He is now an angel investor, the founder and CEO of health insurance startup League, and board member at the Vector Institute for Machine Learning, MARS Discovery District, and Creative Destruction Lab.

Adams runs Morgan Stanley’s Capital Markets business in Canada. A former elite athlete and member of the Canadian National Swim Team, Adams believes in the power of challenging young people to exceed their own expectations through exposure to the best and brightest in their fields, an opportunity that Perimeter embodies in the field of theoretical physics.

Supporting the undergraduate summer program at Perimeter was a perfect fit for the couple, as Serbinis credits his physics background – an engineering physics degree from Queen’s University – for much of his success.

“Physics gives you the superpower to solve the toughest problems in business, starting from first principles,” Serbinis said at Perimeter’s inaugural Career Trajectories Day.

Up to 10 students from the summer program will also be invited to work as research assistants with Perimeter researchers for the remainder of the summer. Following the internship, students will have an opportunity to present their work to the Perimeter community in a poster session similar to those held at scientific conferences.  

– Stephanie Keating




About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

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“We are thrilled to be able to offer this program, which allows us to bring talented, motivated, and creative undergraduate students from Canada and around the world to Perimeter.”


– James Forrest, Perimeter Director of Academic Programs