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2014 Polanyi Prize Winners

Archived Backgrounder

2014 Polanyi Prize Winners

Chemistry

Dr. William Bennett is a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Waterloo's chemistry department. He uses computer simulations to produce physics-based 'movies' of how individual molecules interact with each other. The simulations provide insight into how peptides target and penetrate cell membranes. The goal of Dr. Bennett's research is to design new peptides that target diseased cells and deliver specific drugs to ultimately kill them. By better understanding peptides, Dr. Bennett's research could improve treatment for Ontarians with cancer, HIV, Parkinson's and other serious diseases.

Economic Science

Dr. Rahul Deb is an assistant professor in the economics department at the University of Toronto. He developed a theory that is used to determine whether firms involved in competitive bids for business are genuinely competing, or whether they are secretly colluding. This theory will allow market regulators to assess competition or collusion by observing a firm's strategic behaviour over time. Dr. Deb's research also outlines a model that allows governments to choose an alternate bidder if there is a distinct social benefit to doing so. Ontarians will benefit greatly from this fair-competition approach to business in support of the province's competitive economy.

Literature 

Dr. Andrea Charise is an assistant professor of health studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Her research focuses on how today's generational identity and intergenerational conflict were represented much earlier in literature. She also examines the politics and poetics of generational relations in 19th century Britain, which again surface in modern times. Dr. Charise says the defining of age-base groups, such as boomers and millennials, is evidence of generational identity and intergenerational conflict in the modern literary imagination. Her research teaches Ontarians how literature and the humanities are crucial to the way we think about age and generations amidst the province's changing demographic.

Physics

Dr. Eduardo Martin-Martinez is a research assistant professor in the Institute for Quantum Computing and the applied mathematics department at the University of Waterloo. His research explores a new field that combines the two fundamental pillars of physics - quantum theory and general relativity - to understand the nature of gravitational interaction. Specifically, Dr. Martin-Martinez studies quantum effects induced by gravity to learn new information about space time. Additionally, he wants to use the theory of relativity to develop new quantum technologies. Dr. Martin-Martinez's research could be used to further develop quantum computing technology, which will revolutionize the way we process information and support Ontario industries that rely on big data.

 Physiology/Medicine 

Dr. Jennifer Brunet is an assistant professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on the way physical activity has a positive effect on cancer treatment and recovery, and how it can actually help prevent the disease. Through her research, Dr. Brunet wants to demonstrate that physical activity is an effective therapy that can complement conventional medicine. Her current research is focused on the factors that hinder physical activity among people with cancer so she can determine what type of intervention people need to become more active after cancer treatment. Dr. Brunet hopes her work will lead to increased allocation of resources for physical activity in health care, resulting in improved health and well-being of cancer survivors in Ontario.

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