Earlier this week, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada announced the winners of its most prestigious (and richest) awards. It can be difficult to sum up the complex work these researchers do, so here it is straight from the source:
Axel Becke, Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
Dr. Becke, Killam Chair in Computational Science and Harry Shirreff Professor of Chemical Research at Dalhousie University, explains his contributions to energy calculations within density functional theory, a branch of quantum theory.
Chris Eliasmith, NSERC John C. Polanyi Award
Dr. Eliasmith is Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Neuroscience, director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, and a professor cross-appointed to the departments of philosophy, systems design engineering and computer science at the University of Waterloo. Here, he discusses the purpose and functions of Spaun, the world’s most complex model simulation of the brain.
Bonus: In 2013, Dr. Eliasmith gave a TedX talk about the award-winning Spaun program.
Claire Deschênes, Synergy Award for Innovation
Dr. Deschênes is a professor of mechanical engineering and founder of the Hydraulic Machines Laboratory, a fluid mechanics lab at Université Laval. She describes the economic, research and environmental benefits of partnership between the lab and the hydroelectric industry, one of Canada’s largest and fastest growing green energy sources. (Video in French.)
David Blowes and Richard Amos, Synergy Award for Innovation
Dr. Blowes is Canada Research Chair in Groundwater Remediation and a professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Amos is an assistant professor with the Institute of Earth Science at Carleton University. Together with colleagues from the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia and Diavik Diamond Mines, they’re looking into mitigating the risks of managing mining waste.
Paul Schaffer, François Bénard and Thomas J. Ruth, Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering
Dr. Schaffer is an expert in radiochemistry and principal investigator at TRIUMF, the national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Dr. Bénard is B.C. Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Ruth is a special adviser, emeritus, at TRIUMF and the B.C. Cancer Agency. Their team is working on alternative ways hospitals may produce medical isotopes in-house once the Chalk River reactor is closed.