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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
15-Mar-2007

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Contact: Doré Dunne
dore.dunne@nserc.ca
613-996-4690
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

World-leading cosmologist at University of Toronto wins Canada's most prestigious science prize

This release is also available in French.

(Ottawa, Ontario) -- A University of Toronto cosmologist who listens to "cosmic music" is the latest winner of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, Canada's most prestigious science prize.

Richard Bond will be honoured by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) next Monday, March 19 in Ottawa. Named for Canadian Nobel laureate Gerhard Herzberg, the annual prize guarantees the winner $1 million in research funding over the next five years.

As Director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) from 1996 to 2006, Bond promoted that organization's mandate for a pan-Canadian approach to world-class science, attracting postdoctoral students from across Canada and the world. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and of Canada. With more than 12,000 citations, Bond is Canada's most highly cited astronomer.

"I congratulate Dr. Bond on winning this significant award and applaud him for his outstanding contribution to Canadian astronomy," said Colin Carrie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry. "His work has helped Canada attract and retain young researchers, which is vital to making us a leader in the field of astronomy for current and future generations."

"The NSERC Herzberg Medal recognizes Canadian researchers whose work embodies the same combination of influence and excellence exemplified by Gerhard Herzberg during his lifetime," commented NSERC President Suzanne Fortier. "Richard Bond certainly epitomizes these traits, through his research, as well as through his work as co-founder and Director of CITA."

For more than 25 years, Bond's research has provided important insights into the deep questions science poses about the origin, history and nature of the universe. By analyzing cosmic microwave background radiation (the oldest light energy that any telescope can detect), he has found ways to sketch details of the events just after the Big Bang that gave the universe its current structure.

Through a combination of theoretical and experimental work, Bond has explored the origin of large-scale structure in the universe, with special attention to dark matter- a major component of the universe that cannot be observed directly but can be detected by its gravitational effect. Over the years he has helped develop cosmology into an increasingly precise science for mapping the size, shape and age of the universe.

The other finalists for the NSERC Herzberg Medal were Gilles Brassard of the Université de Montréal and John Jonas of McGill University. Both will receive the NSERC Award of Excellence and a $50,000 research grant.

The award selection process involved both international peer review of the nominees and adjudication by a distinguished NSERC jury. This year's panel was chaired by Edwin Bourget, a member of NSERC's Council who is also Vice-Rector of Research at the Université de Sherbrooke.

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NSERC is a federal agency whose role is to make investments in people, discovery and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians. The agency invests in people by supporting some 23,000 university students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,000 university professors every year and helps makes innovation happen by encouraging about 1,300 Canadian companies to invest in university research and training. Over the last 10 years, NSERC has invested more than $6 billion in basic research, university-industry projects, and the training of Canada's next generation of scientists and engineers.

For background on the NSERC Herzberg Medal, visit http://www.nserc.gc.ca/herzberg/e.



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