Polanyi prizes honour Ontario university researchers
Date
February 4, 2020

TORONTO, Feb. 4, 2020 – Today, the innovative and ground-breaking work of five university researchers in Ontario, will be awarded the 2019 Polanyi Prizes, ranging from discoveries that could lead to game-changing advances in the safe handling of nuclear waste to better long term outcomes for liver transplant patients.

These prestigious prizes are awarded in honour of Ontario’s Nobel Prize winner John C. Polanyi, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in chemical kinetics.

“These winners are true ambassadors for academic excellence, problem-solving and innovation and we are proud to celebrate the tremendous breadth and value of the research being conducted on university campuses and in laboratories across Ontario,” said David Lindsay, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

“I would like to congratulate this year’s recipients of the John C. Polanyi Prizes,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Their work helps advance Ontario’s innovation economy, strengthening our province’s reputation in research, while changing the way we approach and understand issues that directly impact Ontarians.”

The Polanyi Prizes are awarded each year to innovative researchers who are either continuing postdoctoral work or have recently gained a faculty appointment. Each winner receives $20,000 in recognition of their exceptional research in the fields of chemistry, literature, physics, economic science and physiology/medicine.

The 2019 Polanyi Prize winners are:

  • Physiology/Medicine: Dr. Mamatha Bhat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, and Staff Heptologist at University Health Network, is seeking to improve long-term outcomes for liver transplant patients by examining the biological factors underlying the most common conditions that affect long term survival.
  • Economic Science: Dr. Abel Brodeur, Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, is looking for greater insight into intriguing socio-economic topics in order to create safer communities, including how domestic terrorism causes harm to local economies.
  • Chemistry: Dr. Ramon Alain Miranda Quintana, Postdoc (York Science Fellow) in the Department of Chemistry, York University, is creating computational algorithms to gain a new understanding of the properties of complex chemical compounds, potentially leading to game-changing advances such as zero-loss electricity transmission and safe handling of nuclear waste.
  • Literature: To provide a better understanding of the history of literary cultural in society and how this has shaped language as we know it, Dr. Audrey Walton, Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, examines the rise of vernacular literature in early medieval Europe and explains how translation in literature from Latin to local languages unfolded in the British Isles.
  • Physics: Dr. Maria Drout, Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto is recognized for her research in the evolution, influence and ultimate fate of massive stars, contributing to scientific breakthroughs that help us understand the physical world we live in, by using ground and space-based telescopes to study supernova explosions and other exotic transients, as well as populations of massive stars in nearby galaxies.

“Their innovative work is an excellent reminder of why it is so important to support our researchers, the bright young minds that are helping solve some of our most pressing issues, producing breakthroughs and helping to create a better future for students, our communities, and the province,” says Lindsay.

The Polanyi Awards are created and funded by the Ontario government and are administered by COU. The winners will be presented with their awards at a ceremony at the University of Toronto’s Massey College.

To learn more about these awards, click here.