Inauguration of an International Research Project between the CNRS and the University of British Columbia (UBC, Canada)

Publié le 05 février 2021
Le 21 janvier 2021 a eu lieu une cérémonie de signature virtuelle pour l’inauguration d’un Projet de recherche international (IRP - International Research Project) avec le Canada, soutenu par l’INSU et intitulé « Maxwell-Berger Low Noise Underground Research Laboratory » (MBL). On January 21st, 2021, a virtual signing ceremony took place for the inauguration of an International Research Project (IRP) with Canada, supported by INSU and entitled "Maxwell-Berger Low Noise Underground Research Laboratory" (MBL).

The event, followed in live by more than fifty observers, brought together representatives from the CNRS, the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Avignon Université, the Université Côte d’Azur (UCA) and the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA). The Consul General of France in Vancouver, an important supporter of the project, underlined the importance of scientific collaborations for Franco-Canadian relations.

The MBL principal investigators, Stéphane Gaffet, Guy Dumont and Matthew Yedlin, presented the main axes of their original and interdisciplinary cooperation, which builds a bridge between geophysics and medical sciences by studying the characteristics of the brain and geological layers, which are measurable through electric and electromagnetic fields. Hence, the name of the project – Maxwell-Berger Laboratory – refers to James Clerk Maxwell, a 19th century physicist whose work introduced the unified description of electromagnetic waves, and to Hans Berger, a German neurologist considered to be the father of electroencephalography.

More concretely, the MBL’s scientific roadmap integrates the following axes:

– imaging of complex environments using radar ;

– understanding the hydrodynamic processes associated with groundwater resources;

– seismic metrology;

– implementation of an international experimental platform for high-sensitivity imaging of electroencephalographic activity for the study of neurodegenerative diseases.

Resulting from a collaboration dating from 2004, the MBL brings together several laboratories in France and at UBC, the centrepiece of the collaboration being the Laboratoire Souterrain à Bas Bruit (LSBB)[1], which has a very singular history. Indeed, the LSBB offers research infrastructures in a unique low-noise environment within underground galleries, given up by the French Army at the end of the Cold War. The laboratory is located on the site built in the 1960s to house the ground-to-ground ballistic nuclear missile firing post of the French nuclear deterrent force on the Albion plateau in the Luberon region near Avignon. Equipped with a magnetically shielded and vibration-proof chamber, the LSBB provides an ideal environment for conducting complex experiments using electromagnetic waves. This laboratory houses ultra-sensitive instruments and significantly improves their measurement performance by reducing interference of all kinds.

In addition to the LSBB, researchers and professors from three other UMRs are also involved: the Laboratoire des Fluides Complexes et leurs Réservoirs (LFCR)[2], the Laboratoire d’Electronique, Antennes et Télécommunications (LEAT)[3] and the laboratory called Environnement Méditerranéen et Modélisation des Agro-Hydrosystèmes (EMMAH)[4]. At UBC, the Digital Health Innovation Laboratory and the Adaptive Microsystems Laboratory are involved.

Speakers at the virtual inauguration ceremony of the MBL (from left to right and top to bottom) : Santa Ono – President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC; Georges Linarès – Vice-President Research of Avignon Université; Antoine Petit – President and CEO of the CNRS; Noël Dimarcq – Vice-President Research of UCA; Laurent Bordes – President of UPPA; Stéphane Gaffet, Matthew Yedlin and Guy Dumont – researchers and MBL principal investigators; Philippe Sutter – Consul General of France in Vancouver; Natasha Nobell – Manager Global Partnerships UBC. Photo credits: UBC.

The MBL project enriches the CNRS cooperation network in Canada, currently composed of 4 IRLs (International Research Laboratories), 12 IRPs (International Research Projects), and a dozen IRNs (International Research Networks).


[1] Laboratory under the tutelage of CNRS/Avignon Université Laboratory.

[2] Laboratory under the tutelage CNRS/Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour/Total

[3] Laboratory under the tutelage CNRS/Université Côte d’Azur

[4] Laboratory under the tutelage INRAE/Avignon Université

Crédits photo de couverture : User:GAllegre, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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