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Université Laval Professor Recognized for Promoting “Chemistry of Love”

Wins Prestigious Science Promotion Award worth $10,000

May 14, 2014 – Quebec City

Celebrated for his entertaining and plain language lectures, Université Laval chemist Normand Voyer is the winner of the 2013 NSERC Award for Science Promotion – individual category.

This award honours individuals who are inspirational in the way they promote science and engineering to the general public. Nominated by their peers across Canada, the winners stand out for their work to explain science to lay audiences, and to encourage young Canadians to pursue careers in the natural sciences and engineering.

The various science promotion activities that the award can honour vary from science camps and youth programs to co-op program and job shadowing to writing books and mass media content.

Dr. Voyer is known in Quebec for his highly informative and engaging presentations over many years. One of his best known lecture series is on the “chemistry of love,” where he explains to teens and adults how various hormones and neurotransmitters -- substances in the body that carry signals from one nerve cell to another -- drive people’s feelings when they fall in love.

Quick Facts

  • Dr. Voyer has set up a host of science promotion programs over the years, including:
    • Colloque annuel des étudiantes et étudiants de 1er cycle en chimie de l'Université de Sherbrooke (Université de Sherbrooke’s Undergraduate Chemistry Students’ Annual Conference);
    • 24 heures de la chimie (24 hours of Chemistry);
    • Chimie de l'amour (Chemistry of Love);
    • Attraction chimique (Chemical Attraction); and
    • Caravane Défi-Chimie (Chemistry Challenge Caravan).
  • Since 2010 he has also helped to create four new undergraduate programs in biopharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals, materials, and environmental chemistry at Université Laval. These new programs have helped the university to significantly increase the number of undergraduate students.

Quotes

“Canadians eager to pursue careers in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering will be key to improving our prosperity and quality of life. I would like to congratulate Dr. Voyer on winning this award and thank him for his unique approach to engaging and educating the next generation of young chemists and scientists.”
- The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)

“I congratulate Dr. Voyer on winning this award, which recognizes individuals for their work in promoting science and engineering to the general public. His energetic and creative presentations have helped many students across Quebec learn more about chemistry and consider careers in the field.”
- Janet Walden, Chief Operating Officer, NSERC

“Dr. Voyer’s passion is contagious – it must be a matter of ‘good chemistry’. His contribution to the popularization of science is exceptional. It has inspired many careers in science, and we are very happy that Dr. Voyer’s role is being recognized. His passion confirms our University’s dedication to maintaining strong ties between the sciences and all generations of society.”
- Sophie D’Amours, Vice-Rector, Research and Creation, Université Laval

“It is an honour for me to receive this award which recognizes my efforts to promote the sciences and particularly chemistry. I share this award with all those who, thanks to their collaboration, have helped me to achieve many initiatives in science. These people have had a significant influence on a new generation of chemists and have helped raise awareness in the general public about the importance of chemistry.”
- Normand Voyer, Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Université Laval

Related Products

Dr. Voyer’s profile

The NSERC Awards for Science Promotion

Contacts

Scott French
Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Tel.: 613-943-6177

Media Relations
Industry Canada
Tel.: 613-943-2502; 1-800-328-6189
E-mail: media-relations@ic.gc.ca

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-943-7618
E-mail: media@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Andrée-Anne Stewart
Consultant in Communications and Media Relations
Université Laval
Tel. : 418-656-3952
E-mail : andree-anne.stewart@dc.ulaval.ca

NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports almost 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding approximately 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging over 2,400 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.

Normand Voyer, Department of Chemistry, Université Laval

When Normand Voyer started his career as a chemistry professor at the Université de Sherbrooke in 1988, many of his students recall how impressed they were with his enthusiasm for teaching and his desire to instill in them his passion for science. Today, some of those same students are amazed at how far these qualities have taken him since then. His desire to nurture a broad public appreciation of chemistry has set entirely new standards for such activity, displaying an increasing amount of energy and imagination as the years have gone by.

He began by developing exhibits targeting youth for the Sherbrooke Nature and Science Museum. Soon after, he organized an undergraduate chemistry seminar that is still held annually, and by 2005 he had also established 24 Heures de la chimie!, a much more ambitious day-long marathon of events that includes popular lab sessions for kids, films about chemistry, a chemical “magic show”, and a variety of social and sports activities.

He also took to the road with La Caravane Défi Chimie, a travelling program visiting high schools and appealing to the impatience of young minds with “speed science”, which challenges them to turn a set of instructions into a working experiment in a matter of minutes.

For the International Year of Chemistry in 2011, he developed “Chemistry of Love”, an innovative and dynamic event which has so far introduced more than 400 000 people, young and old alike, to the importance of chemistry in everyday life using a variety of activities – from molecular cooking to criminal investigation.

Now a faculty member at Université Laval, Dr. Voyer’s dedicated outreach efforts appear to have yielded concrete results: the number of new students in the first year chemistry program has reached record levels. In fact, some of his former students credit their own careers in chemistry to his influence. And while his impact on campus is clear, he has regularly contributed to radio programs that bring chemistry to a wide listening audience, as well as hosting annual lectures to engage the public perception of this field.