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John Charles Polanyi Prizes

The John Charles Polanyi Prizes from the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) are five prestigious research grants given annually to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their careers – beginning postdoctoral studies or new appointments as a faculty member at an Ontario university – to aid in research and professional development. The prizes have a value of $20,000 each and may be held along with any other financial support or research funds. They are awarded in the categories of physics, chemistry, literature, physiology or medicine, and economic science.

2019 Competition is closed

Eligibility (info from 2018 competition)

  • Applicants are normally residents in Ontario and have completed or are near completion of doctoral studies in any recognized university in the world, or have completed are nearing completion of doctoral studies in an Ontario university; and
  • have received the doctoral degree between September 1, 2014 and April 30, 2018, or if the doctoral degree has not yet been awarded, will have completed all the requirements for the doctoral degree by April 30, 2019. Applicants holding faculty appointments within these time limits may apply. (Note: Applicants who have been 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.)

Application Process

The complete application process consists of:

  • An online application form
  • CV
  • Brief summary of doctoral thesis (one page)
  • A statement of research (or writing) to be undertaken during the period of the award (maximum of 2 pages, plus an additional 1 page for diagrams, bibliography, etc., to be prepared by the applicant)
  • A non-technical summary (maximum 500 words, to be written by the applicant)
  • Confidential letters from four assessors. These should focus on an evaluation of the applicant’s research (or writing) to date, and the research (or writing) being undertaken. Letters muct be sent electronically directly to   Two of the assessors must not have been associated with the candidate as either a supervisor, or a member of the applicant’s supervisory committee, or a co-author and should preferably be from another university.
  • A letter from the AVP & Dean, Graduate Studies indicating, at the very least, the nature of the position to be held and the candidate’s suitability for the prize.


Only three applications per category may be submitted by McMaster. Prescreening may therefore be necessary.

Completed applications must be submitted internally.


The nomination submission deadline to the School of Graduate Studies is December 1, 2018
McMaster Information Sheet

Further details can also be found at:


Interested parties are encouraged to consult with the School of Graduate Studies. By email