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NSERC Top Researchers

NSERC’s top researchers in the natural sciences and engineering are honoured each year for a wide range of achievements that showcase the research talent and innovation taking place in Canadian universities. Award winners represent the full spectrum of our country’s research talent, from students embarking on their careers to seasoned researchers making internationally recognized discoveries.
André Hamer Postgraduate Prize
Current Winners 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

Prize Backgrounder

The NSERC André Hamer Postgraduate Prizes are awarded to the four most outstanding candidates in NSERC's postgraduate scholarships competition at the master’s level, and to the most outstanding candidate in the NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships competition at the doctoral level. The prizes were established by Arthur McDonald, winner of the 2003 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, in memory of André Hamer, a very promising young scientist who passed away in 2003.

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

NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize
Current Winner Dr. Marinus T. J. van Loenhout University of British Columbia

Prize Backgrounder

The NSERC Howard Alper Postdoctoral Prize is awarded to the most outstanding candidate in the NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships competition. The prize recognizes academic excellence, existing and potential research contributions, interpersonal and communication skills, and leadership abilities. The prize was established by Howard Alper, winner of the 2000 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.

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

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships
Current Winners 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

Prize Backgrounder

Recognizing Those Who Shape Our Future

The NSERC E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships honour the memory of Dr. Edgar William Richard Steacie, an outstanding chemist and research leader who made major contributions to the development of science in Canada during, and immediately following, World War II.

Dr. Steacie believed that young researchers are a great national asset and should be given every opportunity to develop their own ideas. Through his philosophy, summarized below, he nurtured Canadian talent and drew many promising scientists to our country:

  • Fundamental research is essential to the development of science.
  • The individual is key to research, and individual ideas are ultimately responsible for important advances in science.
  • There are no national boundaries in science.
  • Complete freedom is required for creative work.

And through the Steacie Fellowships, his ideas live on. The Fellowships are awarded to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising university faculty who are earning a strong international reputation for original research.

The Prize

Every year, NSERC awards up to six Steacie Fellowships that 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 Fellowships are held at a Canadian university or affiliated research institution.

The Fellowship normally includes a contribution to the university in the amount of $90,000 per year toward the fellow's salary. As part of the Fellowship agreement, the university is expected to fund a replacement for the fellow's teaching and administrative responsibilities. Should the recipient of the Fellowship already hold another federal award that has a salary component, such as a Canada Research Chair (CRC), University Faculty Award (UFA), or Industrial Research Chair (IRC), NSERC will reduce the contribution to the university to $30,000 per year. The Fellowship will go towards relief of teaching or administrative responsibilities, or to enhance the research environment of the fellow's department.

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 and will be invited to submit an application to the Research Tools and Instruments Grants program for equipment funding related to their Steacie research.

This link will take you to another Web site Another distinct but similar prize of the same name is administered by the E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering in Canada.

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

Prize Backgrounder

Innovation paves the road to success in the new global economy. The Synergy Awards for Innovation were launched in 1995 by NSERC to recognize partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development between universities and industry. Since their inception, the awards have honoured the most outstanding achievements of university-industry collaboration in the natural sciences and engineering.

By working together, award-winning companies and universities have proven that effective partnerships are the foundation of achievement. Their success has enriched the academic and research programs within Canadian universities while providing tangible benefits to Canadians.

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 will bear the cost of the industrial portion of the fellow’s salary).

The Synergy Awards for Innovation showcase innovation and the benefits of pooling resources to make the most of Canadian ingenuity. The awards are judged on:

  • partnership;
  • effective use of resources;
  • tangible benefits; and
  • for the Leo Derikx Award only, an innovative model.

Award Categories

Synergy Awards are offered in four categories:

  • Small and Medium-Sized Companies – A partnership with a single company of up to 500 employees.
  • Large Companies – A partnership with a single company of more than 500 employees.
  • Two or More Companies – A partnership with two or more companies of any size.
  • Leo Derikx Award – An established innovative model of long-standing university-industry partnership in pre-competitive R&D that has improved the general well-being of an industry.

For two decades, Leo Derikx was a driving force in building and developing university-industry partnerships in Canada. As Director General of Research Partnerships for NSERC, it was Leo Derikx who helped to create the Synergy Awards. Upon his retirement in 1999, the award for innovative models of long-standing interaction in the precompetitive stage of R&D was named in his honour.

Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering
Current Winner Dr. Jules Blais
Dr. John P. Smol

Prize Backgrounder

Rewarding Excellence with a $250,000 Team Research Grant

In tribute to the pursuit of excellence in research that the late Canadian scientist Dr. Bertram N. Brockhouse exemplified and inspired, NSERC is proud to offer an interdisciplinary research prize in his name.

The Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering recognizes outstanding Canadian teams of researchers from different disciplines who have combined their expertise to produce achievements of outstanding international significance in the natural sciences and engineering in the last six years.

The Brockhouse Canada Prize competition is held annually. It supports Dr. Brockhouse's vision of interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration in Canadian research and celebrates the excellence he exemplified in his career. 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. The grant may be distributed in one lump sum or up to five instalments, depending on the needs of the recipients. The selection committee may recommend not to award the prize in a given year if there is no outstanding nomination.

Dr. Brockhouse was the co-recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physics for, according to the Nobel Committee for Physics, his "pioneering development of neutron scattering techniques for studies of condensed matter" and for his "development of neutron spectroscopy." His research revolutionized scientists' ability to chart atomic dynamics. Throughout his career, Dr. Brockhouse's passion for his work also inspired young researchers to pursue careers in research.

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award
Current Winner ALPHA-Canada Team

Prize Backgrounder

Created in 2006, the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award is given to an individual or team whose research, conducted in Canada, has led to a recent outstanding advance in any NSERC-supported field of the natural sciences or engineering. The research leading to the advance must have been funded at least partially by an NSERC grant. The award is open to all researchers, regardless of their career stage.

As part of the award, the winning individual or team will receive a research grant of $250,000. The next nomination deadline is March 1, 2011.

The award was established in tribute to the excellence in research that John C. Polanyi continues to exemplify. Dr. Polanyi won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. NSERC is proud to offer a prestigious research prize in his name.

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
Current Winner Dr. W. Ford Doolittle Dalhousie University

Prize Backgrounder

The Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, NSERC’s highest honour, recognizes research contributions characterized by both excellence and influence – two qualities that defined Dr. Herzberg's illustrious career. It is awarded annually to an individual who has demonstrated sustained excellence and influence in research for a body of work conducted in Canada that has substantially advanced the fields of natural sciences or engineering.

NSERC's Objectives

The award celebrates Canada's most outstanding scientists and engineers, raising public awareness about the major contributions that Canada's top researchers make to international science and technology, and to improving the lives of Canadians.

The NSERC Herzberg Medal

In honour of the late Dr. Gerhard Herzberg, Canada's 1971 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, NSERC has dedicated its highest award to his memory.

In addition to the medal, the winner is guaranteed $1 million 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. The monetary award is distributed over a five-year period.

If the winner already has an NSERC Discovery Grant, that grant is increased to $200,000 for each of the five years. If the grant is currently greater than $150,000, it is topped up by $50,000.

A winner who is not an NSERC Discovery Grant recipient may direct the full $200,000 to university research endeavours, such as scholarships.

NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research
Current Winner Zhihui Yi École Polytechnique de Montréal

Prize Backgrounder

The NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research is awarded to an outstanding recipient of an NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship who best exemplifies interdisciplinary research. Preference is given to a recipient who plans to pursue doctoral studies at a different university from the one that granted their most recent degree. 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.

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