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Call for Nominations

Nomination deadline: March 1, 2014

The NSERC John C. Polanyi Award was created to recognize and support a university researcher or team of researchers whose work has led to a recent outstanding Canadian advance in a field of the natural sciences or engineering.


Candidates may be nominated by any individual or group; however, the nominators must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Self-nominations will not be accepted. Current NSERC Council members are not eligible for nomination.

Candidates can be at any stage in their career. At least one of the candidates must hold an NSERC grant. Also, the research that led to the advance described in the nomination must have been supported by NSERC. NSERC reserves the right to rule on the eligibility of nominations and nominees.

In the case of a team nomination, members may be from academia, government or industry, and may be research associates, postdoctoral fellows or students. The team can be part of an international effort, but the majority of the nominated team members must be employed at a Canadian university or public or private organization. NSERC recognizes that teams may change between the time of the specific research achievements and the time of nomination. Nominations will be accepted when changes have occurred, but only where the core of the team remains intact.

An individual or team may be nominated for the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award and other major NSERC prizes in the same year, but can receive only one such prize in a given year.

Selection Criteria and Evaluation

Nominations will be judged on the significance and impact of the advance. Note that the stature of the candidates is not an evaluation criterion for this prize.

A selection committee of distinguished university, government and corporate research representatives, from a variety of disciplines, will review the nominations and recommend the Polanyi Award winner to the President of NSERC. Since the selection committee is multidisciplinary, the nomination material should be written for non-specialists.

The selection committee may recommend not to award the prize in a given year if there is no outstanding nomination.

Nomination Process

The nomination package must include:

  • a letter of nomination signed by the nominator(s). The nomination letter must be no longer than three pages and must clearly describe the recent outstanding advance, outlining the nature of the advance, its significance and impact. The letter must also include a summary of the advance for public release;
  • a brief, one-paragraph description of the nominator’s background;
  • up to four documents relating to the recent, outstanding advance that provide evidence of recognition by the scientific and engineering community. At least one of these must be a peer-reviewed article. The other documents may include proof of prizes received with their accompanying citations, testimonials attesting to the significance and impact of the advance, journal articles and reports;
  • the names and addresses (mail and e-mail) of six Canadian and/or international researchers who, in the opinion of the nominators, could be approached by NSERC to conduct an impartial review of the nomination. The majority of these proposed referees should be from outside Canada, and none should be in conflict of interest (see This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations). Applicants must not contact suggested external reviewers in advance. Please note that NSERC reserves the right to select all or none of the suggested referees;
  • an up-to-date NSERC Personal Data Form, Form 100. If a team is being nominated, an up-to-date Form 100, for NSERC-eligible researchers and, if applicable, an up-to-date CV for non-NSERC-eligible researchers;
  • a brief letter from the team identifying one of the members as the spokesperson of the group. This spokesperson must be eligible to hold an NSERC grant and will be the contact person for NSERC on any matter related to the outcome of the competition (team nominations only); and
  • a Terms and Conditions of Applying Form signed by each nominee.

For nominations in engineering or the applied sciences, nominators should consult the NSERC's Guidelines for the Preparation and Review of Applications in Engineering and the Applied Sciences, and prepare the nomination accordingly.

The nominators are responsible for assembling the required documentation, which must follow NSERC’s General Presentation format. Only the documents requested by NSERC will be made available to the selection committee.

For re-nominations, nominators are asked to submit a complete and updated nomination package. The list of suggested referees should also be updated to include new individuals.

Nominations may be submitted:

Electronically : via Secure Submissions for NSERC’s Innovative Collaborations and Science Promotion Programs. Documents must be submitted in Portable Document Format (PDF) as a single document.

By mail:    
NSERC John C. Polanyi Award
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 1H5

By fax: 613-947-3847

Note: Original signatures are required on documents, but they can still be submitted electronically or by fax.



Before nominees submit their documents to the nominator, they must read and agree to the terms and conditions listed on the Terms and Conditions of Applying Form.


Before nominators submit the nomination to NSERC, they must read and agree to the following terms and conditions.

By submitting the nomination, you are certifying that:

  • the information provided in the nomination and related documents is true, complete and accurate to the best of your knowledge;
  • those listed on the nomination have agreed to be included;
  • you are not currently ineligible to apply for and/or hold funds from NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), or any other research or research funding organization worldwide for reasons of breach of policies on responsible conduct of research, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies;
  • if you are or have been (at any time during the past 12 months) a federal public servant, you have complied with and will continue to respect the This link will take you to another Web site Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector;
  • you understand the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act and the Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC as they pertain to the information contained in the nomination and related documents; and
  • you consent to the sharing among the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) and with any academic institution to which you are, or may become, affiliated, of any and all information, including personal information, in any way related to the nomination and to the grant/award.

Conditions and Reporting

The grant is tenable only at, and with the consent of, the Canadian university named in the nomination material. A winning team must designate one of its members to be responsible for the administration of the award. This member must be eligible to hold an NSERC grant. Refer to NSERC's Eligibility Criteria regarding this matter.

The winning individual(s) will be asked to confirm acceptance, by e-mail or letter, of the award and to confirm the ability to use the full value of the accompanying research grant. Because the grant may be distributed in either one or several instalments, the winning individual(s) will be asked to submit a payment schedule.

At the end of the funding period, the winning individual(s) will be asked to report on the impact that the award and the accompanying research grant has had on their research activities.


The names of the winning researcher or team of researchers will be announced at a public ceremony in 2015.

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