Lab Canada

Dr Art McDonald and SNO team wins Franklin Medal

Kingston, ON – Queens physicist Dr Art McDonald and his team of scientific the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) have won another prestigious international award for their groundbreaking discoveries about the nature of matter and the structure of the universe.

This week in Philadelphia, Dr McDonald is receiving the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, with co-winner Yoji Totsuka from the University of Tokyo, for the discovery that neutrinos change flavour and have mass. The Franklin Institute Awards Program honours scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs who have made extraordinary scientific achievements, benefited humanity, advanced science, launched new fields of inquiry and increased the understanding of the universe.

Past winners of these medals, which date back to 1824, include Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie and Pierre Curie, and Orville Wright. More than 100 Franklin Institute Laureates have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.

Dr McDonald and his SNO team solved the 30-year-old puzzle of the missing solar neutrinos in their underground laboratory two km below the surface of CVRD-INCOs Creighton Mine in Sudbury. Their discovery that neutrinos (sub-atomic particles considered the basic building blocks of the universe) change from one type to another on their journey to Earth from the Sun modifies the long-held standard model of particle physics, and was designated as one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the world in 2001 by the journal Science.

In 2006 the SNO team members were the first recipients of the John C Polanyi Award for outstanding scientific achievement. Dr McDonald is the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in particle astrophysics at Queens, an officer of the Order of Canada, and past recipient of the Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal from NSERC Canada, the Tom W Bonner Prize in nuclear physics from the American Physical Society, and the Bruno Pontecorvo Prize from Russia.

The SNO team includes more than 150 scientists from Queens, Carleton, Laurentian and Oxford Universities; the Universities of Guelph, British Columbia , Pennsylvania, Washington and Texas; TRIIUMF, Berkeley, Los Alamos and Brookhaven National Laboratories and LIP, Lisbon.

I am honored to accept the Franklin Medal for the scientific results obtained by our SNO team, says Dr McDonald. This has been a tremendous collaborative effort over many years. Our success has arisen from the combined talents and hard work of many colleagues and from the tremendous support that we have received from our many international partners.