Ontario Celebrates Outstanding Researchers with Polanyi Prize

Patrick D Costa

The Ontario government is recognizing the province’s leading researchers for their work in the fields of chemistry, economic science, literature, physics and physiology/medicine. Each year, the John Charles Polanyi Prizes celebrate five individuals — in the early stages of their careers — making significant contributions to Ontario’s research sector, generating ideas and discoveries that enhance the province’s competitiveness and economic growth.

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Dr. John C. Polanyi, Nobel Laureate in chemistry presented the prizes at a ceremony held at Queen’s Park today.

“The work of these innovators serves as exceptional examples of the ground-breaking research taking place across Ontario’s postsecondary sector,” said Minister Dunlop. “Their efforts to investigate some of society’s most pressing issues drives progress, generates investment and creates jobs – all leading to a better future for the next generation of Ontarians.”

The diverse research conducted by the winners includes work that will lead to the early diagnosis of diseases, improving the health and financial security of low-income populations, the creation of the first-ever three-dimensional model of components of the Milky Way, improving end-of-life medical care and an examination of Indigenous critiques of resource extraction.

The 2022 Polanyi Prize winners are:

  • Dr. Alana Ogata, University of Toronto, Chemistry
  • Dr. Michael Stepner, University of Toronto, Economic Science
  • Dr. Isabella Huberman, University of Toronto, Literature
  • Dr. Joshua Speagle, University of Toronto, Physics
  • Dr. Kieran Quinn, University of Toronto, Physiology/Medicine

“This is the thirty-fifth year that our province has celebrated five scholars of high promise in the name of Alfred Nobel, outstanding Swedish inventor and idealist,” said Dr. Polanyi. “Ontario’s imaginative act had the consequence that the King and Queen of Sweden came, not long ago, to distribute the awards in Toronto. One hopes that Ontario’s commitment will be celebrated in years to come. I speak as one who participated in the hundredth anniversary of Nobel’s bequest in Stockholm, and was struck then, as today, by the staying power of his ideals.”

Ontario’s research sector is a key source of innovation and commercialization, making it one of the leading contributors to the province’s global competitiveness and productivity. Prioritizing the creation, protection and commercialization of intellectual property will support long-term economic growth and help ensure that all Ontarians benefit from the inventions and discoveries that result from publicly funded research and innovation.

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