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U of T Faculty and Students Dominate NSERC Awards

NSERC Awards

On February 27 at Rideau Hall, Governor General David Johnston graciously hosted the annual awards of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), an important celebration of Canadian discovery and innovation at its best. Prizes were given in eight categories, ranging from graduate students to rising stars in full mid-career flight and lifetime achievers. University of Toronto researchers won in six of the eight, including NSERC’s senior prizes.

Excellence in the natural sciences and engineering is essential if we are to have successful societies and a sustainable world. This year’s unprecedented performance by our faculty and students – which builds on a consistent record of success over many years – highlights the University’s leadership role in these important disciplines.

This is the third year in a row that a U of T researcher has won the Herzberg medal, NSERC’s highest honour, given for sustained excellence and overall influence in research. And, over the last two years, three U of T researchers have won the John C. Polanyi award, honouring the year’s outstanding advance in science or engineering made by a Canadian-based researcher. Faculty members also won three of six Steacie fellowships this year. I was particularly encouraged that our winners covered a range of disciplines and included students and colleagues from every phase of the academic life-cycle as well as a Synergy Award for Innovation, recognizing exemplary academic-industry partnership.

In an intensely and increasingly competitive world, Canada simply must be able to compete and win in the global arena. This is true for research-intensive universities no less than for businesses and social-purpose enterprises. To the extent that our institutions can raise the Canadian flag on the global stage, the nation’s ability to innovate, educate, and attract top-tier talent will be greatly enhanced.

In that spirit, I would like to offer two votes of thanks. The first goes to our immediate academic family at the University of Toronto, whose members continue to excel by any measure. A second and broader acknowledgment is due to all those who support Canada’s research-intensive universities – students and their families, alumni and benefactors, foundations, elected and appointed officials in different levels of government, and, not least, Canada’s national granting councils.

A final note: In my last entry, I was looking forward to attending the NSERC awards at Rideau Hall and celebrating with our NSERC winners! The weather, unfortunately, did not cooperate, and many flights were cancelled. However, I gather it was a grand event in any case. Again, congratulations to all the NSERC awardees!

Here are some great photos of the event and a link to a story in the University of Toronto News…

(Photo credit: Cpl Roxanne Shewchuk, Rideau Hall)