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Ontario Celebrates Exceptional Researchers with Polanyi Prizes

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Ontario Celebrates Exceptional Researchers with Polanyi Prizes

Province Supporting Innovation at Ontario Universities

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

On the 30th anniversary of the Polanyi Prizes, Ontario is recognizing the province's leading researchers for their contributions to the fields of chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and economic science. 

The John Charles Polanyi Prizes are awarded annually to five researchers who are in the early stages of their careers and pursuing post-doctoral research at an Ontario university. Recognizing innovation is a key component in developing Ontario's highly skilled workforce, which is crucial to the future success of Ontario's economy. Recipients of the Polanyi Prizes represent the province's next generation of innovators.

The research conducted by this year's recipients includes work that has led to a better understanding of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, an examination of why women are underrepresented in science, technology, education and math (STEM) education and findings that will help lead to personalized treatments for asthma patients.

The 2017 Polanyi Prize winners are:

  • Dr. Mathieu Lavallée-Adam, Chemistry, University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Ismael Mourifié, Economic Science, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Vinh Nguyen, Literature, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Sarah Svenningsen, Physiology/Medicine, Western University
  • Dr. Areti Angeliki Veroniki, Physiology/Medicine, University of Toronto

Supporting excellence and ground-breaking research at Ontario universities is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario established the Polanyi Prizes in 1987 to honour the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, a 1986 Nobel Prize Laureate in chemistry.
  • Over the past 30 years, 148 young researchers have received this honour.
  • A panel directed by the executive heads of the Council of Ontario Universities selects prize recipients from a collection of nominees each year.
  • In 2014, Ontario recommitted $250 million over three years for the Ontario Research Fund, which helps support the activities of world-class researchers.

Background Information


“It is an honour to recognize the recipients of this year’s 30th anniversary Polanyi Prizes. Polanyi Prize winners represent some of the best university-based researchers across Ontario. These young researchers are reinforcing our province’s reputation as a centre for excellence and innovation, while changing the way we approach key issues that directly affect our people.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development

“The Prizes have been celebrating the accomplishments of Ontario's young scholars for the past 30 years. The province − and those who live in it − have benefited not only from their marvelous discoveries, but also from the clear evidence that Ontario supports fundamental research, now and into the future.”

Dr. John C. Polanyi

Nobel Laureate, Chemistry

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