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Governor General Announces Canada's Top Natural Sciences and Engineering Researchers for 2015

Celebrated research includes ground-breaking chemical theories, computers that think like humans, and new production of medical isotopes

February 17, 2015 – Ottawa. In an official ceremony this evening at Rideau Hall, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present a series of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awards recognizing the work of outstanding Canadian scientists and engineers. He will be joined by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), and Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President of NSERC, in congratulating the 34 award recipients.

The most prestigious research prize, the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, is being awarded to Dr. Axel Becke, a chemistry professor at Dalhousie University for his outstanding contributions to the fields of computational science and physical chemistry. Scientists and engineers around the world rely on Dr. Becke’s ground-breaking chemical theories and computational methods to advance numerous sectors ranging from drug discovery to cleaner energy.

Also being announced today are prizes for top graduate students, outstanding university–industry partnerships, interdisciplinary research, ground-breaking discoveries, and excellence in multidisciplinary research. The work of these researchers is helping to reduce energy consumption in heating, decreasing the environmental impacts of mining, advancing human brain research using computer models, solving the worldwide shortage of medical isotopes and enhancing the web user experience.

Quick Facts

  • Named after 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.
  • NSERC-funded researchers are honoured every year for a wide range of achievements that showcase the high caliber of talent and the innovative research taking place in Canadian universities and colleges.

The following NSERC Awards will be presented during the ceremony:

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

Axel Becke - Dalhousie University

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award

Chris Eliasmith - University of Waterloo

The Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering

Paul Schaffer - TRIUMF
François Bénard - The University of British Columbia
Anna Celler - The University of British Columbia
Michael Kovacs - Western University
Thomas J. Ruth - TRIUMF
John Valliant - McMaster University

NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research

Kaylee Byers - The University of British Columbia
Rowan Cockett - The University of British Columbia

NSERC André Hamer Postgraduate Prizes

Michael McTavish - University of Waterloo

NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize

Jérémy Leconte - University of Toronto

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships

Daniel Ansari - Western University
Steven J. Cooke - Carleton University
Leah Cowen - University of Toronto
Jiangchuan Liu - Simon Fraser University
Aaron Wheeler - University of Toronto
Wei Yu - University of Toronto

Synergy Awards for Innovation

Category 1: Small- and Medium-sized Companies

Carey Simonson - University of Saskatchewan
Robert W. Besant - University of Saskatchewan
Manfred Gerber - Venmar CES Inc.

Category 2: Large Companies

David Blowes - University of Waterloo
Richard Amos - Carleton University
David Sego - University of Alberta
Leslie Smith - The University of British Columbia
Gord Macdonald - Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.

Category 3: Two or More Companies

Claire Deschênes - Université Laval
Luc Deslandes - Voith Hydro Inc.
Normand Désy - Andritz Hydro Canada Inc.
Anne-Marie Giroux - Hydro-Québec
Michel Sabourin - Alstom Énergies Renouvelables Canada Inc.
Robin Sinha - CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada

Category 4: Colleges

David Humphrey - Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology
Mark Surman - Mozilla Foundation


“Canada’s top researchers are tackling some of Canada’s most important economic, social and environmental challenges toward the benefit of Canadians. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all of this year’s NSERC award recipients and thank them for the contribution to Canada. Our government will continue to make record investments in science, technology and innovation to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs, prosperity and improve the quality of life of Canadians.”
--The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

"As Canadians, we can look with pride and honour today at this group of scientists and engineers who embody world-class talent and innovation. Their search for knowledge through inspired scholarly inquiry will help Canada take its place as a world leader."
--Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President of NSERC

Associated Links

Winner profiles

This link will take you to another Web site Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy

Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 343-291-2700

Media Relations
Industry Canada
Tel.: 613-943-2502

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-943-7618

NSERC is the primary funding agency supporting Canada's science and engineering research community. The agency supports almost 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding approximately 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by working with over 3,000 Canadian companies that are participating and investing in post-secondary research projects.

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