John C. Polanyi Award


Opportunity type:



Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Award amount and duration:

Up to $250,000





Candidates may be nominated by any individual or group; however, the nominators must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Self-nominations will not be accepted. In the case of individual candidates, posthumous nominations will also not be accepted. Current NSERC council members are not eligible for nomination.

Candidates can be at any stage in their career. At least one of the candidates must hold an NSERC research grant. Also, the research that led to the advance described in the nomination must have been supported by NSERC. NSERC reserves the right to rule on the eligibility of nominations and nominees.

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

In the case of a team nomination, members may be from academia, government or industry, and may be research associates, postdoctoral fellows or students. The team can be part of an international effort, but the majority of the nominated team members must be employed at a Canadian university or public or private organization. NSERC recognizes that teams may change between the time of the specific research achievements and the time of nomination. Nominations will be accepted when changes have occurred, but only where the core of the team remains intact.

An individual or team may be nominated for the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award and other NSERC prizes (Herzberg, Brockhouse, McDonald, Synergy or Strickland) in the same year, but can only win one prize in a given year.Nominees may not receive more than one of the following prizes  for the same achievement: Brockhouse, Polanyi or Strickland.


The NSERC John C. Polanyi Award was created to recognize and support a university researcher or team of researchers whose work has led to a recent outstanding Canadian advance in a field of the natural sciences or engineering. The research leading to the advance must have been funded at least partially by an NSERC grant. The award is open to all researchers, regardless of their career stage.
As part of the award, the winning individual or team will receive a research grant of up to $250,000.


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:

  1. a 1-page abstract of the proposed nomination, describing the recent outstanding advance, its significance and impact, OR, in the case of re-nominations, a copy of the previous nomination; and
  2. 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 at minimum:

  1. a letter of nomination (see below - item 1)
  2. up to four documents relating to the recent, outstanding advance that provide evidence of recognition by the scientific and engineering community (see below - item 2)
  3. 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

Nomination Package

The nomination package must include

  1. a letter of nomination (signed by the nominator[s]; three pages maximum; use the following points as headings) that clearly describes the recent outstanding advance, outlining the nature of the advance, its significance and impact; the letter must also include a summary of the advance for public release
  2. up to four documents relating to the recent, outstanding advance that provide evidence of its significance and impact on the scientific and engineering community
    • At least one of these must be a peer-reviewed article
    • The other documents may include testimonials and publications like journal articles, workshop papers/posters, communications, pre-prints, monographs, memoirs or special papers, review articles, conference/symposia proceedings and abstracts, government publications, and reports documenting contributions to engineering practice, among others
  3. the names and email addresses of six researchers who, in the opinion of the nominators, could be approached by NSERC to conduct an impartial review of the nomination
    • The proposed referees should not be in conflict of interest (see  Conflict of interest and confidentiality policy of the federal research funding organizations)
    • NSERC strongly recommends that nominators suggest a cross-section of reviewers with expertise in the nominee’s area of research (i.e., Canadian and/or international researchers; from a range of career stages; members of under-represented and marginalized groups, including women; researchers at a variety of academic and non-academic institutions)
    • Nominees must not contact suggested external reviewers in advance; please note that 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 of the group; this spokesperson 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. terms and conditions form for nominees signed by each nominee
  6. terms and conditions form for nominators signed by each nominator

Contact Details


John C. Polanyi Award