Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact


Opportunity type:



Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Award amount and duration:

Up to $250,000





All researchers in the NSE, regardless of their career stage, can be nominated for this award for their research conducted in Canada. The outstanding research that led to the exceptional benefits described in the nomination must have been supported, at least partially, by NSERC, and the research must be primarily in the NSE. Self-nominations will not be accepted, and current NSERC Council members are not eligible for nomination.

In order to be nominated as an individual, you must hold an NSERC research grant.  

In order to be nominated as a team, at least one of your team members must hold an NSERC research grant. The majority of your team members must be employed at a Canadian university, Canadian federal or provincial government lab, or private firm active in Canada.


The NSERC Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research is awarded annually to an individual or team whose outstanding research, conducted in Canada in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), has led to exceptional benefits for Canadian society, environment and/or economy.

Exceptional benefits can be demonstrated in one or more interacting spheres of Canadian life. Examples include:

  • Improvements to specific procedures in society (e.g., laws, regulations, protocols)
  • Stimulation of new approaches to social issues
  • Improvements to quality of life
  • Informing public debate
  • Improvements to policy making
  • Reduction of waste and pollution
  • Protection of species
  • Reduction of the impact of pollutants on ecosystems and humans
  • Improvements in the sustainable use of resources
  • Protection of ecosystems
  • Reduction in the impacts of climate change
  • Contributions to economic growth and wealth creation
  • Introduction of a disruptive technology
  • Creation of a new industrial sector


Application deadlines

Program application deadline

November 28, 2023 - 9:59 PM

Additional Information

Institutional Nominations (Optional)

Candidates may be nominated by any individual or group (Canadian citizens or permanent residents). Candidates may also be nominated by the President of the University of Calgary. Candidates seeking an institutional nomination must submit a request for consideration by the Vice-President (Research) and President that includes:

  • a 1-page abstract of the nomination letter that describes how the research meets the criteria for the Donna Strickland Prize (see below, Nominations - item 1); 
  • the candidate's CV (NSERC Common CV or Form 100).

The Faculty's lead for awards (e.g., chair of awards committee) or Associate Dean (Research) must submit both documents to the Research Services Office ( by August 28, 2023.

SUPPORT: Research Awards Committee

The SUPPORT: Research Awards Committee is now available to review and provide feedback to strengthen nominations for major research prizes and awards and advise on the suitability of award nominations. SUPPORT will also review the CV of a potential nominee and advise on their suitability for nomination at this time.

If you wish for the SUPPORT: Research Awards committee to review and provide feedback on a nomination package, please include:

  1. a letter of nomination (see below, Nominations - item 1)
  2. a description of each nominee's involvement in the research and/or knowledge mobilization (see below, Nominations - item 2)
  3. up to four documents, providing evidence of knowledge mobilization and societal impact (see below, Nominations - item 3)
  4. an up-to-date CV for each member of the team

If additional components of the nomination package are available by the SUPPORT deadline, the committee would be pleased to review all available materials.

SUPPORT Nomination Review Deadline: August 28, 2023

SUPPORT Candidate Review: anytime


When preparing a team nomination, include individuals who participated in both the research and the knowledge mobilization (synthesis, dissemination, transfer, exchange, and co-creation or co-production).

NSERC strongly encourages nominators and university officials to consider equity, diversity and inclusion in their nomination processes.

Since nominations are reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee, the nomination material should be written for non-specialists.

As a nominator, you must prepare the following materials:

  1. A letter of nomination signed by the nominator(s)—it must be no longer than four pages. Use the following points as headings:
    1. Description of the research that has led to the exceptional benefits outlined in this nomination
    2. Summary of the impact the research has had within its field (refer to Contributions to research, and their impact below for additional information)
    3. Description of the strategy for knowledge mobilization
      • Include information about the challenge and the approach taken to involve the appropriate users or beneficiaries in the research and/or knowledge mobilization activities

        (“Users” refers to entities who will interact directly with the product of the research, whereas “beneficiaries” are entities whose lives improve as a result of the research. In some cases, these are one in the same. Entities can include communities, community organizations, specific designated or underrepresented groups of Canadians, members of the general public, companies, students, patients, schools, clients, manufacturers, engineers, other researchers, or businesses, among others.)

      • Provide supporting documentation, as described in point 3a below
    4. Summary of the significance of the benefits to Canadian society (societal impact)
      • Significance is defined as the interaction between the magnitude of benefits and the extent or range of the benefits; the benefits must be demonstrated and realized
      • Provide supporting documentation, as described in point 3b below
        (refer to Contributions to research and their impact below for additional examples of societal impact)
    1. Explanation of the ways in which the benefits described are underpinned by the research outlined in this nomination

      (“Underpinned by” means that the research made a specific, demonstrable and essential contribution to the benefits taking place, such that the benefits would not have occurred or would have been significantly reduced without the contribution of that research.)
  1. A description of each nominee’s involvement in the research and/or knowledge mobilization (maximum 250 words per nominee)
  2. Up to four documents, totaling no more than ten pages, providing evidence of
    1. knowledge mobilization (e.g., creating and distributing tool kits, infographics, fact sheets or plain-language reports in consultation or collaboration with users and/or beneficiaries; holding workshops, conferences or meetings with stakeholders, users and/or beneficiaries)
    2. societal impact (e.g., letters of impact, case studies)—these documents should contain information about
      • the number, distribution and characteristics of individuals benefiting (e.g., from specific marginalized or disadvantaged groups)
      • the realized benefits
  3. The names, organizational affiliations and email addresses of six individuals who, in your opinion, could be approached by NSERC to conduct an impartial review of the nomination
    1. Reviewers should be able to address the area of research and/or knowledge mobilization and/or societal impact, and should not be in conflict of interest (see  Conflict of interest and confidentiality policy of the federal research funding organizations)
      • Indicate which selection criterion or combination of criteria these referees are most suited to evaluate
    2. Nominators should suggest a cross-section of reviewers (i.e., Canadian and/or international researchers; from a range of career stages; members of under-represented or marginalized groups, including women; researchers at a variety of academic and non-academic settings)
    3. Nominees must not contact suggested reviewers in advance
    4. NSERC reserves the right to select all or none of the suggested reviewers
  4. For team nominations only, a brief letter from the team identifying one of the members as the spokesperson; this individual must be eligible to hold an NSERC grant and will be the contact person for NSERC on any matter related to the outcome of the competition (refer to NSERC's Eligibility criteria for faculty)
  5. Identification of any eligible leaves of absence (optional one-page) in consultation with NSERC’s Interruptions in research, training and mentoring webpage. In the case of medical leave, it is not necessary to explain the illness or the treatment but rather its impact on your research activity. Please:
    1. provide the duration of the circumstances
    2. include the impact of the interruption(s)
  6. Terms and conditions form for nominees signed by each nominee
  7. Terms and conditions form for nominators signed by each nominator

Contact Details


Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact