In a special ceremony held before 600 people, Dr. Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), announced on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry, that the Council’s top award to an organization involved with science communication and promotion goes to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI).
The Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion, named after the late Canadian Nobel laureate, acknowledges the creation of inspirational and educational scientific content for wider communities. The award is presented annually to honour individuals and groups that make an outstanding contribution to the promotion of science in Canada. Since its formation in 2000, PI has developed a variety of programs for students, teachers and members of the general public in order to convey the mysteries of our physical world through science and share the joys of discovery and innovation.
“The presentation of this award to Perimeter Institute shows the value of the Government of Canada’s investments in leading edge organizations with a commitment to furthering research and education,” said Minister Prentice. “This type of partnership furthers the Government’s science and technology strategy by helping to foster interest in science, especially among young people, which will help strengthen the ‘People Advantage’ this country already enjoys.”
Speaking to a full house at the Institute’s popular public lecture series, Dr. Fortier said, “The Institute’s extensive education programming and impressive achievements in increasing awareness of scientific research and innovation makes it a worthy recipient of this award. The dedication to education and awareness, shown by the Perimeter Institute and its talented staff, help Canadians understand cutting edge scientific theories and ideas. They share the drive and determination personified by Michael Smith during his life and career.”
John Matlock, PI Director of External Relations and Outreach, responded, “On behalf of Perimeter Institute’s outreach team and volunteers, I would like to express my deepest thanks for this national recognition. It is very gratifying to know that our many efforts in science communication have been judged to be of such high quality and impact. We very much wish to thank the Michael Smith Awards Committee, Dr. Fortier and NSERC for this honour.”
The monthly Public Lecture Series is one of many science communication programs presented by the Institute, and features world-renowned researchers speaking on hot topics in science. Presentations are accessible to the general public and are also viewable online. Students across Canada benefit from their own specially tailored in-class talks known as Physica Phantastica. Students can also attend the International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP), held each summer in Waterloo. This program provides mentorship with the international researchers at PI. Educators benefit from Teacher Workshops, held on locations across Canada, and through summer sessions known as EinsteinPlus - where teachers explore cutting edge ideas in modern physics and learn how to convey complex information to their students. The Institute has also staged special events and festivals. Recently, the outreach team launched an all new, in-class and online resource known as “Perimeter Explorations”. The first module explores “The Mystery of Dark Matter”.
NSERC is a federal agency whose vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports some 25,000 university students and post-doctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,000 university professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,400 Canadian companies to participate and invest in university research projects.