U of T Leads in National Science Awards

University of Toronto researchers won or shared honours in six of eight prize categories in this year’s awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), presented Feb. 27 in Ottawa.

Among them are U of T Engineering professors Warren Chan (IBBME), Paul Santerre (IBBME, Director) and Yu Sun (MIE), as well as PhD student Graham Carey (ECE).

The accolades represent an unprecedented performance by U of T scholars, ranging across the academic life-cycle, from graduate students through rising stars in mid-career, to lifetime achievers.

Professors Chan and Sun won the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, awarded to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers who are faculty members of Canadian universities.

Professor Chan is a global leader in nanotechnology and is breaking new ground using quantum dots in biomedical applications. He is leading the development of hand-held devices capable of screening for molecules that indicate the presence of pathogens, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, malaria and syphilis. (Read a Q & A with Chan here.)

Professor Sun is an international leader in developing robotics and automation technologies for manipulating biomaterials. His research into automated processes for biological cell manipulation is revolutionizing how genetic studies, cancer research and clinical cell surgery and diagnostics are performed. (Read a Q & A with Sun here.)

Professor Santerre was awarded the Synergy Award for Innovation, which honours outstanding achievements in university-industry collaborations. His partnership with Interface Biologics is producing transformative biomedical polymers to make medical devices safer and more effective. They have created products ranging from catheter lines to polymer-coated stents for opening blocked arteries. (Read a Q & A with Santerre here.)

Master’s student Christina Nona of pharmacology and toxicology and PhD student Graham Carey won an André Hamer Postgraduate prize. At the master’s level, the prize is awarded to the four most outstanding candidates in the NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship competition, and at the doctoral level to the single most outstanding candidate.

Carey, who works under the supervision of Professor Ted Sargent (ECE), Vice-Dean, Research, is exploring some of the key challenges in making quantum dot solar cell systems more efficient. Quantum dots are microscopic pieces of semiconductor that can be layered—like paint—onto a surface. He is looking at ways to improve the stability of each layer to minimize energy loss and increase efficiency. (Read a Q & A with Carey here.)
“We are delighted that three of our professors and one of our graduate students have been honoured by NSERC for research which advances engineering knowledge and benefits all Canadians” said Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “These prestigious awards demonstrate our Faculty’s strength in all aspects of engineering innovation – ranging from fundamental investigations to successful technology transfer and commercialization.”

To read about all U of T winners, visit U of T News.