John Charles Polanyi Prizes

To honour the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Ontario Government established a fund to provide John Charles Polanyi Prizes annually to up to five outstanding researchers or scholars who are in the early stages of their careers and at Ontario universities. The prizes, each of which is currently valued at $20,000, will be conferred in the fall of 2018. They are available in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science, broadly defined.


  • $20,000 each
  • May be held in conjunction with any other salary and research funding support

Timeline and Deadlines

Deadlines are set by COU and each institution is allowed to submit up to three (3) applications per prize area:

  • October – Competition opens and application is available
  • December 1, 2017 – Deadline to submit electronic applications to Mihaela Harmos in SGPS
  • January 31, 2018 – Deadline for SGPS to submit nominations to COU


Notes for Assessors

An assessor’s letter should provide an evaluation of the applicant’s research or scholarship to date and the research or scholarship to be undertaken. In particular, the assessor should explain why the research is worthy of a John Charles Polanyi Prize, paying particular attention to the selection criteria outlined below.
Each assessor’s letter should be sent electronically to in SGPS (i.e., not via the applicant) no later than December 1, 2017.


  • Be normally resident in Ontario
  • Have received your doctoral degree from any recognized university in the world on or after September 1, 2014, or, if the doctoral degree has not yet been awarded, be confident that you will have completed all degree requirements by April 30, 2018 (an applicant who was on parental leave between the time of completion of the doctorate and the time of application may have their period of eligibility extended by six months);The prizes are awarded to assist the recipients in their research and professional development.
  • Either be planning to continue to post-doctoral studies, or hold a faculty appointment, in a recognized publicly assisted university in Ontario.

Selection Criteria

John Charles Polanyi Prizes recognize truly outstanding researchers and scholars for their work during their doctoral program and, where relevant, in their research and scholarship after doctoral study. The Selection Committee, when it makes its decisions about the applicants to be awarded the prizes, reviews both the record of research and publications and the description of planned research; neither, alone, is sufficient for recognition with a Polanyi Prize.