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Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 16, 2001

U of G Physicist wins Polyani prize

University of Guelph physics professor Carl Svensson has won a prestigious John Charles Polanyi Prize.

Svensson, who joined U of G Jan. 1, is one of five Ontario recipients of the annual prize. Worth $15,000, it recognizes early but significant and innovative work in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and economics.

“I was thrilled by the announcement,” said Svensson. “Prof. Polanyi is one of Ontario’s — and Canada’s — truly great scientists and individuals. The award is a great honour.”

Svensson’s primary area of expertise is gamma-ray spectroscopy, which he uses to study the properties of the atomic nucleus.

“At the most fundamental level, I am just trying to understand the way nature works,” he said. “I study how nuclei behave by looking at the high-frequency light, or gamma rays, emitted by the nucleus of the atom. By studying this light, you can learn about the properties of the nuclear forces."

A native of Deep River, Svensson earned his B.Sc. and PhD degrees from McMaster University in 1995 and 1998. Following graduation, worked for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council post-doctoral fellow. During his two years in Berkeley, he made important contributions to understanding collective motions and the occurrence of extreme deformations in light nuclei.

His current research focuses on precision nuclear beta decay experiments that provide demanding tests of human understanding of the most fundamental interactions of subatomic particles.

Svensson is U of G’s second Polanyi Prize winner. In 1994, Prof. Elisabeth Nicol, also of the Department of Physics, won a Polanyi shortly after coming to Guelph.

Established in 1986, the Polanyi Prizes are awarded in recognition of the achievements of University of Toronto professor John Charles Polanyi, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in reaction dynamics. Svensson will officially receive his award Nov. 14 at a reception at Massey College in Toronto.

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