Vicky Kaspi wins Polanyi prize

Posted on Monday, February 21, 2011

Victoria Kaspi, Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics./ Photo courtesy NSERC

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill astrophysicist Victoria Kaspi, whose meteoric rise has attracted scientific attention around the world, has added the prestigious John C. Polanyi Award to an already lengthy list of accolades for work she and her team have done to increase our understanding of the laws that govern the universe and in support of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Kaspi, McGill’s Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics, is widely known for her cutting-edge work on neutron stars, pulsars and supernovae remnants. In 2005, Kaspi and her team discovered the fastest-rotating pulsar known to science and more than 20 pulsars in a single star cluster in the Milky Way. Most recently, her team was the first to witness a cosmic act of recycling involving a dying pulsar.

“We are delighted to again congratulate Vicky on her outstanding work in helping us understand the fundamental physics of how the universe works,” said Rosie Goldstein, McGill’s Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). “She is truly reaching for the stars and is producing ground-breaking research. We are all very proud of her and her team’s accomplishments.”

Created in 2006, the Polanyi prize, awarded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is named in honour of Canada’s 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The award is given to an individual or team whose research, conducted in Canada, has led to a recent outstanding advance in any NSERC-supported field of the natural sciences or engineering. The research leading to the advance must have been funded at least partially by an NSERC grant. Kaspi is the first McGill winner of the prize, which carries a $250,000 research grant.

“I am overwhelmed to win such a prestigious prize for doing something that I love,” Kaspi said. “I absolutely share this prize with all my students, postdocs, and collaborators worldwide. My students and postdocs in particular are all sources of inspiration, apart from keeping me constantly on my toes. I am also very appreciative of McGill for providing such a collegial atmosphere, ripe for scientific discovery.”

In addition to the Polanyi award, Kaspi has won the Prix Marie-Victorin, Quebec’s highest accolade for science and engineering, as well the Steacie Prize in the Natural Sciences, the Rutherford Memorial Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Association of Physicists Herzberg Medal, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Young Explorer Prize.

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