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Top award winners announced by NSERC


Ottawa, ON – Some of Canada’s top researchers were honoured this week at an official ceremony for their outstanding achievements in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. The ceremony was hosted by Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston, at Rideau Hall. He was joined by Greg Rickford, minister of state (science and technology), and Janet Walden, chief operating officer, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Eight prestigious prizes were awarded to 36 recipients, including individuals and research teams. The top research prize, the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, was awarded to Dr. Ford Doolittle from Dalhousie University for his work on the evolution of genes and genomes. Dr. Doolittle is studying, at the gene level, how living organisms survive in their environments and adapt to them.

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

Also announced were prizes for top graduate students, outstanding university-industry partnerships, interdisciplinary research, ground-breaking discoveries, and excellence in multidisciplinary research.

Winners are:

André Hamer Postgraduate Prize

Each of the five winners receives a $10,000 supplement in addition to their scholarship.

• Afnan Azizi, University of Ottawa
• Dylan Breitkreutz, University of Alberta
• Jean-Philippe MacLean, University of Waterloo
• Christopher M. van Bommel, University of Victoria
• Michael Lifshitz, McGill University

NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize

The winner receives a $20,000 prize, in addition to their Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

• Dr. Marinus T. J. van Loenhout, University of British Columbia

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships

Up to six Steacie Fellowships are held for a two-year period. Successful fellows are relieved of teaching and administrative duties, so that they can devote all their time and energy to research. The Fellowship normally includes a contribution to the university toward the fellow’s salary. In recognition of the award’s prestige and the increased time available for research, fellows will also each receive a research grant of $250,000.

  • • Dr. Ehab Abouheif, McGill University
  • • Dr. Aashish Clerk, McGill University
  • • Dr. Kevin Leyton-Brown, University of British Columbia
  • • Dr. Milica Radisic, University of Toronto
  • • Dr. Federico Rosei, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), Université du Québec
  • • Dr. Zhou Wang, University of Waterloo

Synergy Awards for Innovation

These awards recognize partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development between universities and industry. The universities each receive a $200,000 NSERC research grant. Industrial partners each receive the prestigious Synergy sculpture and an opportunity to hire an NSERC Industrial R&D Fellow for two years (NSERC bears the cost of the industrial portion of the fellow’s salary).

  • • Dr. Trevor Pitcher, Category 1: Small and Medium-Sized Companies
  • • Dr. Nicholas Bernier,
  • • Dr. Brian Dixon,
  • • Dr. Daniel Heath,
  • • Dr. Dennis M. Higgs,
  • • Dr. Bryan Neff,
  • • Dr. Mark Shrimpton
  • • Dr. Sylvain Moineau Category 2: Large Companies
  • • Dr. John McPhee Category 3: Two or More Companies

Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering

The prize is accompanied by a team research grant of $250,000, which may be used to support the direct costs of university-based research and/or the enhancement of research facilities.

  • • Dr. Jules Blais
  • • Dr. John P. Smol

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award

As part of the award, the winning individual or team will receive a research grant of $250,000.

  • • ALPHA-Canada Team

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

In addition to the medal, the winner is guaranteed $1 million over 5 years to use for personal university-based research or to direct in some related way, such as the establishment of research chairs in his or her name at Canadian universities.

  • • Dr. W. Ford Doolittle, Dalhousie University

NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research

The award is valued at $10,000 and was established in 2012 by Gilles Brassard, winner of the 2009 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.

• Zhihui Yi, École Polytechnique de Montréal