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Canada’s science champions receive top honours from the Government of Canada

Award winners celebrated for their work to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers

General news

May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario - One scientist uses pinned and preserved insects from Canada and the tropics, along with live ones such as walking sticks, to help explain physics to more than 9,000 students over the years. A team of researchers uses promotional programs in engineering and coding to encourage girls in grades seven and up to pursue careers in these fields. Their common cause: to make science matter to new generations of students who will become the engineers, architects, teachers and researchers of tomorrow.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, presented two awards today to Canadians who have made it their life mission to take science out of the classroom and place it in the hands of the young people they teach.

Dr. Jeremy McNeil, a biology professor at Western University, received a $10,000 award through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Individual Award for Science Promotion. Dr. McNeil regularly uses certain insects, such as monarch butterflies, to explain the principles of physics to his students.

The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) received the $25,000 Group Award for Science Promotion for its efforts to encourage the participation of young women in engineering. One of its programs, Go CODE Girl, provides girls in grades seven to 11 across Ontario the opportunity to learn about coding and software development.

NSERC’s Awards for Science Promotion give Canada's science community the opportunity to recognize, support and encourage outstanding science ambassadors, and to inspire young people to pursue a life in sciences, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). The skills young scientists acquire along the way, such as asking bold questions or using their imaginations to solve complex problems, help them to make a real difference in their communities and put them on a path to find their dream job one day. Their ideas, discoveries and inventions also help create new opportunities that support a strong economy and a growing middle class.

Quick Facts

  • NSERC Awards for Science Promotion have recognized eight individuals and eight groups since it was established in 2009.
  • For the past 40 years, Dr. Jeremy McNeil has been presenting about insects, particularly the migration of monarch butterflies. He presents to children at English and French primary and secondary schools in Canada, as well as at other locations in North America, China, Europe and Australia, reaching more than 9,000 students over the years.
  • ONWiE has engaged over 17,000 girls and their parents, encouraging them to study science and engineering through a variety of hands-on activities, such as a workshop where the girls learned to build a robotic arm that transferred sand from one cup to another.
  • These awards were presented as part of Science Odyssey – a 10-day celebration of discovery and innovation from May 12 to 21. It brings together hundreds of events across the country to celebrate science and create awareness of Canadian achievements in science and technology. 


“Our government is proud to support today’s award-winners for their outstanding contributions to science. Their efforts to educate and inspire new generations of students help create a culture of curiosity that is the foundation of research and innovation. It is an honour to celebrate their achievements, and I look forward to working with them to continue encouraging an interest in science among Canada’s youth.”
- The Honourable Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“NSERC is delighted to launch Science Odyssey for the second year in a row, and is pleased to recognize these award recipients for their inspirational work and valued dedication. Scientists like Dr. McNeil and groups like ONWiE are helping shape how youth view science and engineering by engaging them in hands-on experiences. They are making a real difference in thousands of young lives who hold the promise of a bright future for our country.”
- Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President, NSERC

Associated Links

About the Award

Where NSERC Invests and Why

A Vision of NSERC in 2020 

Follow Minister Duncan on social media:

Twitter: @ScienceMin
Instagram: sciencemin

Follow NSERC on social media:

Facebook: /nserccanada


NSERC invests over $1 billion each year in natural sciences and engineering research in Canada. Our investments deliver discoveries – valuable world-firsts in knowledge claimed by a brain trust of over 11,000 professors. Our investments enable partnerships and collaborations that connect industry with discoveries and the people behind them. Researcher-industry partnerships established by NSERC help inform R&D, solve scale-up challenges, and reduce the risks of developing high-potential technology.

NSERC also provides scholarships and hands-on training experience for more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows. These young researchers will be the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada.


Stéfanie Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Science
Tel.: 343-291-2600

Lucy Lai
Media Relations Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-996-2341

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Tel.: 343-291-1777

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