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Prime Minister Trudeau Honours Canada's Top Scientists and Engineers

Celebrating trailblazing astrophysics, a game-changing discovery of ancient waters, and a breakthrough that will transform healthcare delivery

February 16, 2016 – Ottawa. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will recognize some of Canada’s top researchers in the fields of natural sciences and engineering in an official ceremony this evening at Rideau Hall. He will be joined by the Honourable Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, and Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in presenting six prestigious prizes to worthy recipients.

McGill University astrophysicist Dr. Victoria M. Kaspi is the recipient of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Dr. Kaspi is one of the world’s leading experts on neutron stars, the ancient remnants of the most massive stars in the Milky Way. Her research group has had major impacts in the field of astrophysics, and her seminal work sheds light on how stars evolve, how they die and, ultimately, the very nature of matter under extreme conditions.

Also being announced today are prizes for outstanding university-industry partnerships, ground-breaking discoveries, excellence in multidisciplinary research, and fellowships to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers. The work of these researchers is enhancing crop productivity while achieving significant energy and water savings, developing breakthrough medical diagnostic platforms, improving forest resilience to insect pests, harnessing light and fluids to reduce CO2 emissions, and expanding our understanding of energy-producing chemical reactions that sustain deep microbial life.


“The incredible scientific research coming out of Canada never ceases to amaze me. It is imperative that we praise the groundbreaking achievements of our top researchers to demonstrate our respect and admiration for Canada’s leading scientists and engineers. We must continue to promote, celebrate, and support our talented researchers to foster an environment wherein they can be global leaders in discovery and innovation and generate results that will benefit Canadians today and in the future.”
-- The Honourable Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“We are at a time where an exciting, dynamic and optimistic future is possible for Canada. Research excellence, the willingness to probe the unexpected and unexplained, and increased diversity in the research enterprise will be key drivers in this process. This year’s NSERC award winners suggest that this future may be closer than we think. Each of them exemplifies the incredible brain trust that NSERC invests in on behalf of Canada and Canadians.”
-- Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President of NSERC

“I am profoundly thrilled and humbled to receive the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal. It is truly overwhelming to think that I am in the same category as some of its previous recipients. I accept this award on behalf of my research group and all of the talented students, postdocs and collaborators who’ve played major roles in the research successes and discoveries that are being recognized with this honour.”
-- Dr. Victoria M. Kaspi, Professor of Physics, McGill University

Quick Facts

  • Today’s ceremony celebrates the outstanding achievements of recipients who received six NSERC prizes totalling $3.71 million.
  • Named after Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal is the agency’s highest honour. It provides recipients with $1 million in discovery research funding over five years.
  • NSERC-funded researchers are honoured every year for achievements that showcase the high caliber of talent and the innovative research taking place in Canadian universities and colleges.
  • Collectively, this year’s recipients represent a diversified group across many disciplines and sectors. They serve as an inspiration to young Canadians – the next generation of researchers who need mentors to pursue scientific curiosity and contribute to a dynamic research enterprise in Canada.

NSERC Award Recipients

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
Victoria M. Kaspi, McGill University

NSERC John C. Polanyi Award
Barbara Sherwood Lollar, University of Toronto

The Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering
Shana Kelley, University of Toronto
Edward H. Sargent, University of Toronto

NSERC Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research
Yasser Gidi, McGill University

E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships
Elena M. Bennett, McGill University
Curtis P. Berlinguette, The University of British Columbia
Zhongwei Chen, University of Waterloo
David Sinton, University of Toronto
Mark Vellend, Université de Sherbrooke
Stephen I. Wright, University of Toronto

Synergy Awards for Innovation
Category 1: Small- and Medium-sized Companies
Emil M. Petriu, University of Ottawa
Industrial partner: Rami Abielmona, Larus Technologies Corp.

Category 2: Large Companies
J. David Miller, Carleton University
Industrial partner: Greg Adams, J.D. Irving, Limited

Category 3: Two or More Companies
Jean Caron, Université Laval
Industrial partners: Jean-Paul Guérin, Maraîchers J.P.L. Guérin et fils inc.
Daniel Malenfant, Vert Nature inc.
Denys Van Winden, Production horticole Van Winden inc.
Jean-Bernard Van Winden, Les fermes Hotte et Van Winden inc.
Stéphane Van Winden, Delfland inc.

Category 4: Colleges
Neil Cooke, Red River College
Ray Hoemsen, Red River College
Jose Rizalino M. Delos Reyes, Red River College
Shokry Rashwan, Red River College
Rob Spewak, Red River College
Industrial partner, Lloyd Kuczek, Manitoba Hydro

Associated Links

Winner profiles and videos

NSERC 2020 Strategic Plan

Photo Gallery


Camille Martel
Office of the Minister of Science
Tel.: 343-291-2700

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

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Tel.: 613-943-7618

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, world-leading researchers in their fields. 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.

Our investments provide scholarships and hands-on training experience for the next generation of science and engineering leaders in Canada, more than 30,000 post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows.