Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

March 17, 2008 11:00 ET

NSERC: Dr. John Polanyi Wins Canada's Most Prestigious Science Award

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 17, 2008) - Dr. Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC, today announced that Nobel Laureate John C. Polanyi is the winner of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada's most prestigious science prize.

"I congratulate Dr. Polanyi on winning this prestigious award and applaud him for more than 50 years of outstanding contributions to science and society," said Dr. Carrie. "The Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal aligns with the vision and priorities of the Government of Canada's Science and Technology Strategy, which was announced by Prime Minister Harper in May of last year and reiterated in Budget 2008."

Named for Canadian Nobel Laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the annual prize guarantees the winner $1 million in research funding over the next five years.

After sharing the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for trailblazing a path to chemical lasers, Dr. Polanyi continues to make important breakthroughs, including discoveries that could revolutionize the way we manipulate molecules.

A University of Toronto chemistry professor, Dr. Polanyi's long list of honours includes being named an Officer, and then a Companion, of the Order of Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Royal Society of London.

Dr. Polanyi's brilliance in science is complemented by a wide range of interests and a keen social conscience. He is a founding member of both the Committee on Scholarly Freedom of the Royal Society and the Canadian Committee for Scientists and Scholars, a human rights organization of which he is President.

"The NSERC Herzberg Medal recognizes Canadian researchers whose work embodies the same combination of influence and excellence exemplified by Dr. Herzberg during his lifetime," commented Dr. Fortier. "John Polanyi certainly epitomizes these values, through his research, as well as through his work in shedding new light on the social implications of science."

The other finalists for the NSERC Herzberg Medal are Dr. Gilles Brassard of the Universite de Montreal and Dr. Graham Bell of McGill University. They will each receive a $50,000 research grant. As first-time finalists, Dr. Polanyi and Dr. Bell will also receive the NSERC Award of Excellence.

The NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal will be presented at a ceremony this evening in Ottawa. At the same event, NSERC will honour six rising stars of Canadian research as winners of the NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships.

NSERC is a federal agency whose vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency support some 25,000 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,000 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,400 Canadian companies to participate and invest in university research projects.

For background on the NSERC Herzberg Medal, visit www.nserc.gc.ca/herzberg/e.

Contact Information

  • To arrange an interview with Dr. John Polanyi:
    NSERC
    Dore Dunne
    Manager, Public Affairs
    613-996-4690 or Cell: 613-851-8677
    dore.dunne@nserc.ca
    or
    NSERC
    Martine Perreault
    Media and Public Affairs Officer
    613-996-7238 or Cell: 613-794-9170
    martine.perreault@nserc.ca