John Charles Polanyi prizes - 2020 competition


Government of the Province of Ontario


In honour of the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Government of the Province of Ontario has established a fund to provide annually up to five prizes to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their career who are continuing to post-doctoral studies or have recently started a faculty appointment at an Ontario university.  

The prizes will be conferred in the fall of 2021. They are available in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science, broadly defined.


To be eligible for an award, an applicant must:

  • be normally resident in Ontario;
  • have received their doctoral degree from any recognized university in the world on or after September 1, 2017, or, if the doctoral degree has not yet been awarded, be confident that they will have completed all degree requirements by May 31, 2021 (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);
  • either be planning to continue to post-doctoral studies, or hold a faculty appointment, in a recognized publicly assisted university in Ontario.

Please refer to the Council of Ontario Universities website for comprehensive eligibility criteria.


The prizes have a value of $20,000 each and are available in the areas broadly defined as Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science.

Special Notes

Please note that research activities carried out in the context of COVID-19 need to adhere to the University of Guelph COVID-19 research principles, policies, guidelines and processes as they may be updated from time to time and communicated on the Office of Research web-page.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

All required components of the package as outlined by the Council of Ontario Universities must be submitted to the University of Guelph  - Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office at

External Deadline

The University of Guelph - Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will submit approved applications electronically to the sponsor. 

How to Apply

Application forms  are available in English and French .  A complete application requires:

  • an application form completed by the applicant;the applicant’s curriculum vitae;
  • a one-page summary of the applicant’s doctoral thesis, written by the applicant;
  • a brief statement of the research or scholarship to be undertaken during the period of the award, prepared by the applicant and not to exceed two pages (one additional page is allowed for diagrams, bibliography, etc.);
  • a non-technical summary of the statement of research or scholarship, written by the applicant and not to exceed 500 words;
  • confidential letters from four assessors; at least two of the assessors must not have had any prior personal or professional association with the applicant (e.g., as a supervisor, a member of the applicant’s supervisory committee, or a co-author) and ideally are not at a university at which the applicant is, or has been, a student or an employee. The applicant must ask the assessors to send their letters directly, and in electronic format, to the Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Guelph by December 1, 2020.  

Applications are to be sent electronically to and will be vetted by the University of Guelph External/Major Awards Committee.   

For More Information

If you have questions about the application process, please contact the Graduate Awards Officers by email


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