Report: SCI Canada Awards 2023

SCI/David Morris Photography

1 May 2023 | Muriel Cozier

‘We are celebrating some major awards which have been given over many years,’ said SCI’s CEO Sharon Todd, welcoming guests to SCI Canada Awards dinner. ‘It is really important that we recognise excellence, leadership and innovation in these different areas that we are looking at this evening.’

Canada Medal: Dr Paul Smith

Canada Medal: Dr Paul Smith

The top award of the night, the Canada Medal, went to Dr Paul Smith from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Among his many achievements Dr Smith, a physical chemist, is named inventor on 78 US patents and he helped pioneer the field of flexible electronics. The Medal honours a business leader for outstanding service in a Canadian industry.

Known for his ability to connect globally diverse groups across industry and academia – to ultimately benefit Canada, accepting the Canada Medal, Dr Smith said:

‘I am really passionate about the development and growth of the chemical industry in Canada. Moving to Perimeter Institute, it really enabled me to appreciate the incredible opportunity at our fingertips in Canada.’

‘Due to our world-leading position in deep tech, the combination of AI and quantum gives us an opportunity for near-term transformational impact in the chemical-based industries. You can just look and see that the addition of quantum AI machine learning can lead to the design of new materials really fast. This will impact fields from catalysis to biotech and even in areas such as carbon capture.’

Kalev Pugi Award: Professor Francesca Kerton

Kalev Pugi Award: Professor Francesca Kerton

The Kalev Pugi Award, recognising exceptional achievements in research and development of benefit to Canada, was presented to Professor Francesca Kerton, Professor of Chemistry at Memorial University Newfoundland.

Professor Kerton is known for research in sustainable chemistry related to the oceans and was presented with the Canada Green Chemistry and Engineering Award in 2019, and this year will be the Chair of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

Commenting on how green chemistry had evolved Kerton highlighted the book: Green Chemistry by John Warner and Paul Anastas and how since that time new journals on green chemistry had emerged. ‘It’s important to highlight the role that scientists and particularly chemists can play in sustainable development,’ Kerton said.

LeSueur Memorial Award: Dr Rupert Spence

LeSueur Memorial Award: Dr Rupert Spence

Stepping up to receive the LeSueur Memorial Award for technical excellence in either university or industry was Dr Rupert Spence, who worked at Nova Chemicals, where he was recognised for development of a commercialised polyethylene catalyst technology, and then in 2002 he moved to DuPont Canada..

Accepting his award Dr Spence pointed the audience to the person his award was named after, Ernest LeSueur, highlighting an article published in the Journal of Chemical Education.

‘It’s fascinating to see how Ernest faced many challenges working at the interface of new fundamental chemistry – IP, scale-up, and then commercialisation and industrial operations. He had the same challenges and issues that we face today in the chemical industry.’

Canada Awards 2023 International Award: Dr Vaikuntam Iyer Lakshmanan

International Award: Dr Vaikuntam Iyer Lakshmanan

The International Award was presented to Dr Vaikuntam Iyer Lakshmanan, OC Process Research ORTECH. Dr Lakshmanan has worked with industrial partners in the UK and overseas and served as an advisor to the United Nations. He also mentors early career scientists.

Addressing one of his areas of expertise, Drlakshmanan said. ‘‘The field of solvent extraction is going to be of great help to make hyper critical metals. In Canada we are very rich, not only in land area, but we have an ecosystem which can be commercialised.’

Purvis Memorial Award: Rory Francis

Purvis Memorial Award: Rory Francis

The Purvis Memorial Award went to Rory Francis CEO of PEI BioAlliance. Francis who was commended for leading initiatives aimed at driving economic and skilled labour force development in Canada.

‘I really want to thank the Society of Chemical Industry for this very prestigious award. I am humbled in terms of the legacy of Arthur Purvis and also humbled by the presence of recipients of this award,’ The Purvis Memorial Medal recognises an individual for significant strategic development and successful implementation within the Canadian chemical industry.

Julia Levy Award: Professor Pieter Cullis

Julia Levy Award: Professor Pieter Cullis

Receiving the Julia Levy Award; recognising advances in biomedical science that have impacted Canada was Professor Pieter Cullis, from the University of British Columbia. His research has resulted in pioneering contributions in the field of lipid nanoparticle technologies.

Commenting on Canada’s talented scientists Professor Cullis said: ‘I want to emphasise how important this is, we have a situation where we’re sending, I think, 40% of our science graduates south of the border.’ He encouraged the audience to ensure that students trained in Canada were provided with opportunities to develop in the country.

Outreach Award: Professor Geoffrey Rayner-Canham, Chaim Christiana Andersen, and Rosalina Naqitarvik

The three recipients of the Outreach Award were: Professor Geoffrey Rayner-Canham, Chaim Christiana Andersen, and Rosalina Naqitarvik, all from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. While having individual achievements, the three have carried out research and writing on the Chemistry of Inuit Life and Culture. They have also toured giving presentations about chemistry in everyday life, and with the University of Waterloo they released a 75-page Chem13 News issue on Chemistry in the North, which has been delivered to high schools across Canada.

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