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NSERC names winners of top science and engineering prizes for new researchers

Ottawa, ON – Tom Brzustowski, president of Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC), has announced the winner of this year’s NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize, along with the four 2005 winners of the NSERC prizes for top doctoral research in science and engineering. The doctoral prizes carry a cash award of $10,000, while the Alper prize is worth $20,000.

The winner of the NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize is Dr Annick Gauthier (University of British Columbia). Winners of the NSERC Doctoral Prizes are Dr Vida Dujmovic (McGill University), Dr Patrick Seale (McMaster University), Dr Peyman Servati (University of Waterloo), and Dr Bradley John Siwick (University of Toronto).

“These awards recognize some of Canada’s rising stars,” says Dr Brzustowski. “They are young people who have already reached a high level of excellence at an early stage of their career. I am certain that we will continue hearing about the great things they accomplish in the years to come.”

Dr Gauthier’s postdoctoral research at Rockefeller University is focused on understanding how Hepatitis C – a remarkably simple virus – hijacks our liver’s cellular machinery while staying hidden from our immune defences. Her PhD research was with microbiologist Dr Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia.

Dr Dujmovic’s thesis research, with Dr Sue Whitesides, has produced algorithms and mathematical techniques that have solved several longstanding problems in the 2-D and 3-D geometric representation of complex graphs. The insights have applications to fields from mechanical engineering to integrated circuit design. She is presently an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at Carleton University.

Dr Seale’s thesis research, with supervisor Dr Michael Rudnicki, focused on the Pax7 gene and its role in muscle satellite cell regulation. An important result was the discovery of the first physiological role for adult stem cells in muscle repair. Dr Seale is presently a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr Servati’s thesis research, with supervisor Dr Arokia Nathan, created the first thin-film transistors capable of withstanding bending and temperature changes; a significant step on the way to large-area flexible electronics for such uses as video displays. Dr Servati is presently a senior research scientist at IGNIS Innovation.

Dr Siwick’s thesis research produced the first ever “molecular movie” of atoms in a solid-to-liquid phase transition. The research, with supervisor Dr RJ Dwayne Miller, was a cover story in Science. Dr Siwick is presently at the Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The NSERC Doctoral Prizes and Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize will be presented later this year.