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2019 Polanyi Prize Winners


2019 Polanyi Prize Winners

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities presented the 2019 Polanyi Prizes to five young researchers pursuing post-doctoral studies at Ontario universities in recognition of their achievements in chemistry, literature, physics, economic science and physiology/medicine:


Dr. Ramon Alain Miranda Quintana, Postdoctoral Science Fellow, Department of Chemistry, York University

By studying compounds and materials, Dr. Quintana's research focuses on the design of new organometallic catalysts and superconductors and facilitates more efficient energy conversion processes. The research will shed light on innovative ways to process nuclear waste to preserve and protect the environment and support healthier and safer communities in Ontario.


Dr. Audrey Walton, Assistant Professor, Department of English and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

In her research study, New Wine in Old Skins: Early Medieval Theories of Language and the Invention of Vernacular Literature, Dr. Walton examines sacred language, dialects and world religions and rewrites the first chapter in the history of spoken language in the European Middle Ages. Her research argues that the birth of popular religious literature in England took place, not in the 13th or 14th century, as is commonly supposed, but in the 7th. This research contributes to a recent scholarly conversation about the history of sacred languages and the rise of local speech.


Dr. Maria Drout, Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto

Dr. Drout is an observational astronomer who studies the lifecycle of massive stars and the origin of peculiar astronomical explosions. Through their intense radiation, powerful stellar winds and deaths as supernova explosions, massive stars create neutron stars and black holes, and produce the very elements of life. She uses ground- and space-based telescopes to study both stellar explosions and populations of stars in nearby galaxies. Her research exposes the origin of the heaviest elements on the periodic table and brings new discoveries in astrophysics to help Ontarians further understand the galaxy and their place within it.

Economic Science

Dr. Abel Brodeur, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa

Dr. Brodeur's research interests centre around the economics of crime and labour markets. His projects examine the economic causes and consequences of terrorism, as well as gender issues and female economic empowerment. His project on terrorism will shed light on whether media attention amplifies the economic consequences of terror attacks in the United States and whether poverty causes terrorism. The results will help him document the socio-economic characteristics of homegrown terrorists and test whether poverty and unemployment increase the likelihood to become a terrorist. 

The second study on gender issues will explore the persistent effects of historical shocks on female economic empowerment


Dr. Mamatha Bhat, Assistant Professor, Medicine, University of Toronto

Dr. Bhat's research aims to better understand the long-term survival rates of liver disease patients who undergo transplants. Short-term survival after liver transplantation has improved dramatically over time, however long-term survival has not. Transplant patients may develop other illnesses and complications post-transplantation such as liver cancer, fatty liver disease and post-transplant diabetes. Dr. Bhat's research has the potential to benefit the care of liver transplant recipients

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