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Herzberg Gold Medal awarded as Canada’s top researchers are honoured


Ottawa, ON – McGill University astrophysicist Dr. Victoria M. Kaspi has won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dr. Kaspi is one of the world’s leading experts on neutron stars, the ancient remnants of the most massive stars in the Milky Way. Her research group has had major impacts in the field of astrophysics, and her seminal work sheds light on how stars evolve, how they die and, ultimately, the very nature of matter under extreme conditions.

Named after Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal is the agency’s highest honour. It provides recipients with $1 million in discovery research funding over five years.

Also awarded were prizes for outstanding university-industry partnerships, ground-breaking discoveries, excellence in multidisciplinary research, and fellowships to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers. The work of these researchers is enhancing crop productivity while achieving significant energy and water savings, developing breakthrough medical diagnostic platforms, improving forest resilience to insect pests, harnessing light and fluids to reduce CO2 emissions, and expanding understanding of energy-producing chemical reactions that sustain deep microbial life.

Award recipients include:

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering: Victoria M. Kaspi, McGill University

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award: Barbara Sherwood Lollar, University of Toronto

The Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering: Shana Kelley, University of Toronto, and Edward H. Sargent, University of Toronto

NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research: Yasser Gidi, McGill University

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships: Elena M. Bennett, McGill University, Curtis P. Berlinguette, The University of British Columbia, Zhongwei Chen, University of Waterloo, David Sinton, University of Toronto, Mark Vellend, Université de Sherbrooke, and Stephen I. Wright, University of Toronto

Synergy Awards for Innovation:

Category 1: Small- and Medium-sized Companies: Emil M. Petriu, University of Ottawa, Industrial partner: Rami Abielmona, Larus Technologies Corp.

Category 2: Large Companies: J. David Miller, Carleton University, Industrial partner: Greg Adams, J.D. Irving, Limited

Category 3: Two or More Companies: Jean Caron, Université Laval, Industrial partners: Jean-Paul Guérin, Maraîchers J.P.L. Guérin et fils inc., Daniel Malenfant, Vert Nature inc., Denys Van Winden, Production horticole Van Winden inc., Jean-Bernard Van Winden, Les fermes Hotte et Van Winden inc., and Stéphane Van Winden, Delfland inc.

Category 4: Colleges: Neil Cooke, Red River College; Ray Hoemsen, Red River College; Jose Rizalino M. Delos Reyes, Red River College; Shokry Rashwan, Red River College; Rob Spewak, Red River College; Industrial partner, Lloyd Kuczek, Manitoba Hydro

In total, the prize winners received six NSERC prizes totalling $3.71 million.

The prizes were awarded by Governor General David Johnston at an official ceremony last week at Rideau Hall. He was joined by Dr. Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of science, and Dr. B. Mario Pinto, NSERC’s president.

“We are at a time where an exciting, dynamic and optimistic future is possible for Canada. Research excellence, the willingness to probe the unexpected and unexplained, and increased diversity in the research enterprise will be key drivers in this process,” said Dr. Pinto. “This year’s NSERC award winners suggest that this future may be closer than we think. Each of them exemplifies the incredible brain trust that NSERC invests in on behalf of Canada and Canadians.”