Canada’s Research Excellence

What if everything were an experiment? Everything we do, every attempt we make, every success, every failure, and every iteration an attempt to get closer to truth. And the truth is never fully realized, but in what we do not know there is opportunity to try again, to take a new approach, and to build on what we have already established.

Canada is a country rich in many things, which we measure through GDP, investment dollars and even gallons of water, but we are also rich in ideas, the cascading impact of which are often harder to quantify. Across the country, Canadian scholars engage experiments and contribute ideas that will form the genesis of our future economy, and for that they deserve to be recognized.

Through partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts and the Killam Trusts, we interviewed five distinguished researchers who have been awarded the Killam Prize for their exceptional contributions to Canada’s society and economy, which are previewed for you below.

Nanotechnology and the Future of Canada’s Cleantech Economy

Did you know we can melt solar cells, turn them into a liquid and apply them as paint? That has been the research effort of Dr. Ted Sargent, Vice-President, International at the University of Toronto and his team of multidisciplinary researchers.

Dr. Sargent works in nanotechnology and its application for clean energy technologies, which he believes will help Canada simultaneously address both our economic crisis and the looming climate crisis.

Canadian Research on Marginalized Groups

Why is women’s work, which is often referred to as care work, excluded from our economy?

That is the question that Dr. Cecilia Benoit, Professor at the University of Victoria, set out to answer in her early career, and her work surrounding marginalized groups in Canada has made her one of the few sociologists to break into the limelight.

Dr. Benoit has since informed Canadian laws, policies and programs on Canada’s sex workers, Indigenous women and midwifery.

The Impacts of Canada’s Settler West

Many of Canada’s current inequities can be explained by our colonial past, and it takes a historian like Dr. Sarah Carter, Professor at the University of Alberta, who has authored a number of books on Canada’s setter west, to reconceptualize how we define Canada.

Dr. Carter’s research documents the deliberate undermining of First Nations economic initiatives in settler society and the exclusion of women from the economy. She encourages Canadians to learn about the historical policies that still impact Indigenous populations and treaty rights.

Canada’s Excellence in Neuroscience Research

The human brain is the “most sophisticated computer in existence,” according to Dr. Alan Evans, a foremost authority on brain imaging and brain network modelling and the James McGill Professor of Neurology at McGill University.

Dr. Evans works in brain-inspired computing and is passionate about the intersection between artificial intelligence and neuroscience, which will ultimately lead Canadians to better understand brain development and neurodegenerative disorders.

Canada’s Earth Sciences Research and Lessons for Future Crises

The economic implications of Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar’s research are clear as soon as you turn on your tap.

A geologist at the University of Toronto, Dr. Sherwood Lollar studies the nature of groundwater, the remediation of its contamination, and subsurface water stored three kilometers below the earth’s crust.

Dr. Sherwood Lollar’s research has implications for the discovery of life on other planets, but also how our planet is prepared to cope with the climate crisis.

It is perhaps Dr. Sherwood Lollar’s closing comments with that struck us the most; a thoughtful reflection on what it means to experiment:

“An experiment is inherently a lesson learned. Any of the experiments, many of them tough, heartbreaking experiments that we are going on right now in terms of the economy, the environment, the COVID-19 crisis, #BlackLivesMatter, and the problems with marginalized parts of our society—all of these are actually opportunities for us to shine a stronger light on what is not working, because that is how we can learn and think about the actions that we need to take to move things forward. 

The lessons learned—even from very terrible things—can be a call-to-action and an encouragement to young people that this is where you can make a difference.”

We would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the Killam Trusts for helping us share these outstanding scholars and their achievements with Canadians. Stay with to learn more about the ideas and experiments that are shaping our future economy in 2021.

Did you enjoy this newsletter? Get a new one in your inbox weekly by subscribing now!