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Finalists announced for Herzberg medal


Ottawa, ON – Three world-leading scientists are finalists for the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, which will increase the winner’s research funding to $1 million over the next five years. Dr Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), has announced the names.

– Graham Bell, of McGill University, is an internationally renowned evolutionary biologist who has pioneered the use of experimental methods to study the evolution of microbial populations in real time. This has led to deeper understanding of the repeatability of evolution, the control of diversity and specialization, and the significance of sex and gender. His latest work is aimed at predicting whether and how populations will adapt to global change.

– Gilles Brassard, of the Universite de Montreal, is an international pioneer in quantum information processing, a field of research that has the potential to spark the most spectacular revolution in computer science since the invention of the transistor. Professor Brassard’s most celebrated breakthroughs are the discovery of quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation, both universally recognized as fundamental cornerstones of the entire field.

– John C Polanyi, of the University of Toronto, has spent his pioneering career investigating molecular motions in chemical reactions. In 1986, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work uncovering the movements of molecules in chemical reactions. Most recently, he has used scanning tunneling microscopes to characterize the reactions of individual molecules and thus fabricate molecular structures that are less than a thousandth the width of a human hair.

Named for Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the annual prize is widely recognized as the country’s most prestigious science award. The medal will be awarded at a ceremony in Ottawa on March 17.