Queen's biologist awarded Canada's top science prize


Herzberg Medal goes to a Queen's researcher for second year in a row

Queen's Biology Professor John Smol has received the country's top science award – the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal from Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC).

This is the second consecutive year that the distinguished national award has been won by a researcher from Queen's. Last year's Herzberg Medal went to sub-atomic physicist Art McDonald, leader of the international scientific team that developed the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO).

Finalists for the Herzberg Medal, David Dolphin of the University of British Columbia and André Salama of the University of Toronto, will receive the NSERC Award of Excellence.

"This is fantastic news," says Vice-Principal (Research) Kerry Rowe. "John and his colleagues have done some truly outstanding work in demonstrating how paleolimnological techniques can better inform our understanding of long term environmental change. NSERC has recognized John with the Council's highest honour for his contributions in elevating the field of paleolimnology to a respected scientific discipline – an unparalleled achievement for a mid-career researcher. We continue to look forward to many great achievements from the PEARL team."

The Herzberg Gold Medal winner is guaranteed $1 million in funding to be used for university-based research, or to direct in some related way such as the establishment of research scholarships, fellowships or chairs in Canadian universities.

Recognized as one the world's leading environmental scientists, Dr. Smol is founder and co-director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) at Queen's. PEARL is considered by many to be the world's premier paleolimnology training grounds, where researchers from around the world study aquatic issues ranging from the impact of sewage and fertilizer run-off on lakes and rivers to the impact of increased ultraviolet radiation on freshwater life, and climate change.

"I am of course tremendously honoured to receive the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal," says Dr. Smol, who is Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. "But I also realize that my scientific contributions have been done in partnership with a very dedicated and insightful group of students and other colleagues at Queen's University and elsewhere."

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