Ottawa, March 3, 2008 – The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of National Revenue, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry, and Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), today honoured two Canadian scientists who are world leaders in tracking the behaviour of molecules.
André Bandrauk, of the Université de Sherbrooke, and Paul Corkum, of the National Research Council Canada and the University of Ottawa, are receiving the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award for their work using advanced molecular theory and precision lasers to measure the movements of molecules and their electrons over time frames of one attosecond (0.000 000 000 000 000 001 second, or put differently, there are a billion billion attoseconds in one second).
The award, which includes a research grant of $250,000, honours an individual or team conducting research in Canada that has led to a recent outstanding advance in the natural sciences or engineering. It was established in 2006, in honour of John Polanyi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986.
The two researchers began collaborating in the 1980s, combining Dr. Bandrauk’s expertise in theoretical chemistry and Dr. Corkum’s discoveries in experimental physics to explore a new area of science: attosecond science. The ultimate goal of this research is to actually control the movements of electrons as they speed along inside molecules. Mastery of this challenge promises breakthrough applications in fields as diverse as quantum computing and diagnostic medicine.
“The John C. Polanyi Award aligns with the vision and priorities of the Government of Canada’s Science and Technology Strategy, which was announced by Prime Minister Harper in May of last year and reiterated in Budget 2008,” said Minister O’Connor. “The accomplishments of Dr. Bandrauk and Dr. Corkum are a testament both to the excellence of the Canadian research community and also to the personal enthusiasm and ingenuity of the two researchers themselves.”
“I am very pleased with this recognition of two of the most productive and influential researchers in the field of molecular science,” said Dr. Fortier. “Like John Polanyi, who has lent his name to this prize, they are stellar examples of the research excellence found in our universities in Canada.”
NSERC is a federal agency whose vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports some 25,000 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,000 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,400 Canadian companies to participate and invest in university research projects.
For more information, contact:
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry