Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

November 16, 2015 13:30 ET

Five of Canada's Top Researchers Receive SSHRC Impact Awards

Janet Werker of The University of British Columbia receives SSHRC's Gold Medal; two York University academics also take home prizes

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 16, 2015) - The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) today awarded five of Canada's best researchers the 2015 Impact Awards at a gala ceremony at the National Arts Centre.

The University of British Columbia's (UBC) Janet Werker, an internationally acclaimed social scientist whose transformative work reshaped the study of spoken language, proudly received the Gold Medal, SSHRC's highest distinction, from Ted Hewitt, president of SSHRC.

Werker, as one of the world's leading developmental psychologists, is the Canada Research Chair in Psychology and director of UBC's Infant Studies Centre. Over the course of a 30-year career, she has fundamentally changed how we understand language acquisition. Her work has shown that the foundations of language begin in early infancy, and that acquiring two or more languages from birth comes as naturally as learning a single mother tongue.

The Gold Medal comes with $100,000 in research money.

The recipients of the Talent, Insight, Connection and Partnership awards receive $50,000 each for their research. Following are the winners in these categories:

  • Jeremy Schmidt, nominated by Dalhousie University and now at Carleton University, received the Talent Award. His research focuses on water issues, highlighting the role played by anthropologists and geographers in shaping global water governance.

  • David Lyon of Queen's University received the Insight Award. As a research chair and director of the university's Surveillance Studies Centre, Lyon pioneered the study of surveillance, drawing critical attention to the implications of life in a "surveillance society."

  • Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University, received the Connection Award. He is an influential researcher whose foundational work on homelessness has shaped government policy and practice, both in Canada and internationally.

  • Susan McGrath, a dynamic research leader of global stature from York University, received the Partnership Award. Her consistent success over the past decade in forging innovative, interdisciplinary, equitable and cross-sector partnerships has revolutionized the study of refugees and forced migration.

The SSHRC Impact Awards highlight the achievements in research, research training, knowledge mobilization and outreach activities in the humanities and social sciences in Canada. The award winners are chosen by a jury, from a list of exceptional candidates nominated by postsecondary institutions across the country.

SSHRC is a federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and talent development in the humanities and social sciences.


"The government values the vital work of social scientists in helping us understand humanity. I congratulate the five researchers we are celebrating today, and I applaud their curiosity and commitment."

Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"We are recognizing loudly and proudly several of Canada's top researchers in the social sciences and humanities who exemplify the meaningful contributions we can make to Canada every single day. People with ideas and passion. People dedicated to intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. People conducting research that matters."

Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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