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U of T cosmologist wins Herzberg gold medal


Ottawa, ON – A University of Toronto cosmologist is the latest winner of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada’s most prestigious science prize.

Dr Richard Bond will be honoured by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) next Monday, March 19 in Ottawa. Named for Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the annual prize guarantees the winner $1 million in research funding over the next five years.

As director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) from 1996 to 2006, Dr Bond promoted that organization’s mandate for a pan-Canadian approach to world-class science, attracting postdoctoral students from across Canada and the world. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and of Canada. With more than 12,000 citations, he is Canada’s most highly cited astronomer.

“The NSERC Herzberg Medal recognizes Canadian researchers whose work embodies the same combination of influence and excellence exemplified by Gerhard Herzberg during his lifetime,” says Suzanne Fortier, NSERC president. “Richard Bond certainly epitomizes these traits.”

For more than 25 years, Dr Bond’s research has provided important insights into the deep questions science poses about the origin, history and nature of the universe. By analyzing cosmic microwave background radiation, he has found ways to sketch details of the events just after the Big Bang that gave the universe its current structure.

Through a combination of theoretical and experimental work, he has explored the origin of large-scale structure in the universe, with special attention to dark matter – a major component of the universe that cannot be observed directly but can be detected by its gravitational effect. Over the years he has helped develop cosmology into an increasingly precise science for mapping the size, shape and age of the universe.

The other finalists for the NSERC Herzberg Medal were Dr Gilles Brassard of the Universite de Montreal and John Jonas of McGill University. Both will receive the NSERC Award of Excellence and a $50,000 research grant.

The award selection process involved both international peer review of the nominees and adjudication by an NSERC jury. This year’s panel was chaired by Edwin Bourget, a member of NSERC’s Council who is also vice-rector of research at the Universite de Sherbrooke.