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Graduate Studies

John Charles Polanyi Prize

To 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 have a value of $20,000 each and will be conferred in the fall of 2022.  They are available in the areas broadly defined as Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science.

Submission quota

McMaster may submit up to three nominees in each category.

(Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Economic Science)

Eligibility criteria

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, 2018, or, if the doctoral degree has not yet been awarded, be confident that they will have completed all degree requirements by May 31, 2022 (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.

Application instructions for candidates

School of Graduate Studies Deadline is Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Each applicant must upload to MacDrive the following documents as one PDF (using the file name Polanyi_Last Name):

  • The completed application form
  • The applicant’s curriculum vitae (updates to which will not be accepted after submission)
  • A one-page summary of the 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.)
  • Non-technical summary of the statement of research or scholarship, written by the applicant and not to exceed 500 words

The candidate must also provide:

  • 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 or a member of the applicant’s supervisory committee) and ideally are not at a university at which the applicant is, or has been, a student or an employee.
  • 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:
    • 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.

The applicant must ask the assessors to  upload their letters electronically (using file name Polanyi Letter_ Applicant’s Last Name) by the application deadline of Wednesday, December 1, 2021 directly to MacDrive.

  • Note: Include this MacDrive upload link in your request to your assessor (

Department application instructions

If you are applying for the Polanyi Prize Competition, please contact your department so they are aware they are required to submit a letter of support for your application.

  • A letter of support is required from the department.
  • The letter is due no later than Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
  • Department Chairs and/or Proposed Supervisors of the Postdoctoral Fellow or fourth year doctoral applicant are required to provide a letter of support in Word format
  • Among other things, the letter should clarify the nature of the position the applicant will hold during the period of the prize
  • The letter of support will assist the AVP/Dean of Graduate Studies to craft the formal Institutional Nomination Letter required as part of the application.
  • The Department is required to upload the letter of support to MacDrive (use File Name Dept Ltr_Applicant’s Last Name).

Useful links:


If you have any questions or concerns please contact: