Canadian Physics Accelerator Gets Multimillion-Dollar Boost

Business Leaders and Philanthropists Invest in Perimeter Institute

WATERLOO REGION, ON, June 22, 2015 /CNW/ - Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) has forged strategic new partnerships that will inject more than $4 million into fundamental research, training, and outreach at the Institute.

The philanthropic investments come from five additions to Perimeter's successful private-public partnership: Gluskin Sheff, the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation, Cenovus Energy, the Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Family Foundation, and the RBC Foundation. 

The investments were announced during Convergence, a unique conference at Perimeter where many of the world's leading physicists have gathered to probe the field's most exciting ideas and chart a course for the future.  

"We are immensely grateful to the business leaders and philanthropists who today join the private-public partnership that powers Perimeter," said Neil Turok, Director of the Institute. "With hundreds of scientists from around the world converging at Perimeter this week, it is the perfect occasion to celebrate the vision of our unique group of supporters. Their belief in us inspires us to succeed in our research, training, and outreach efforts."

Turok was joined in welcoming the new partners by Perimeter Founder and Board Chair Mike Lazaridis, and BMO Financial Group CEO Bill Downe, who, in 2011, spearheaded his organization's $4 million investment to create the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute. 

The new partnerships will provide over $4 million in support of:

Scientific Research:

  • The Gluskin Sheff Freeman Dyson Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute, supported with $2 million from Gluskin Sheff, matched by Perimeter, will support Perimeter Faculty member Freddy Cachazo, a world leader in quantum field theory.
  • The Clay Riddell Paul Dirac Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute, with $1 million from the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation, matched by Perimeter, to support the research of Perimeter Faculty member Pedro Vieira, a rising star in mathematical physics.
  • The Cenovus Energy James Clerk Maxwell Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute, which provides $300,000 from Cenovus Energy, matched by Perimeter, to support a three-month-per-year visiting position to be held by Subir Sachdev in conjunction with his position at Harvard.

Training of Future Physics Pioneers:

  • The Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Family Foundation Award for Exceptional Emerging Talent, a $500,000 endowed fund to provide extraordinary young, yet-undiscovered physics stars with the support they need to truly shine in the field.

Educational Outreach:

  • The RBC Foundation is donating $300,000 over three years as Presenting Partner of Perimeter's International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP), a program that gives talented Canadian and international high school students an inside look at research in a world-leading facility. This donation builds on RBC's $400,000 support over the past four years.

Perimeter Founder and Board Chair Mike Lazaridis said, "Perimeter is honoured to have a vibrant and growing family of partners who share our vision. Their support enables brilliant minds to tackle the deepest questions of our time, and fuels an innovation ecosystem that is building a brighter future for generations of Canadians."

Perimeter Director Neil Turok said the investments come at a watershed moment for fundamental physics.      

"We live in tremendously exciting times. Experiments are revealing the universe with unprecedented clarity, from the quantum to the cosmos," said Turok. "There are huge opportunities for the breakthrough ideas which will allow us to make sense of it all. Such understanding is priceless. Today's theoretical physics spawns the technologies of tomorrow."

The Chairs announced today join a growing complement of prestigious positions at Perimeter, each named for one of history's greatest physicists and envisioned to become among the most attractive research positions in theoretical physics worldwide. Perimeter's Research Chairs program provides support for a range of talent, from early-career faculty reaching their peak years of research productivity to renowned physics pioneers.

Speaking at Perimeter, BMO CEO Bill Downe said: "The attendance of so many brilliant thinkers in Waterloo for the Convergence conference demonstrates the extent to which Perimeter Institute has firmly established itself as a global leader in scientific research, training, and educational outreach."

He continued: "Today, we are here celebrating something every bit as important to our country and our competitiveness as the strength of our economy, our productivity, and the wisdom of our public policy. Perimeter's boundless potential for unlocking new knowledge places it at the very frontier of discovery. Its thinkers can change our world by pushing the boundaries of our current understanding of physical laws. We couldn't be more proud of our association with the Institute – for us it has been a rare privilege. We made a historic gift a few years ago in the hope it would serve as a catalyst for other funders; it's terrific to see visionary new partners stepping forward to support and celebrate Canadian science and the possibilities that will fire the imagination of the next generation of scientists."

Two more Chairs were established in 2013 with a $4 million investment by the Krembil Foundation. The Krembil Foundation Galileo Galilei Chair supports Davide Gaiotto, while The Krembil Foundation William Rowan Hamilton Chair in Theoretical Physics supports Kevin Costello

Mark Krembil, President of the Foundation, said, "We believe Perimeter Institute's track record of recruitment makes for an exciting investment in Canada's intellectual capital. Kevin, a brilliant young Irish mathematician, is a real coup for Canada. And Davide was winner of the New Horizons in Physics Prize, an international honour that Perimeter researchers have earned three years in a row."

The New Horizons in Physics Prize is a global award from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, recognizing exceptional early-career physicists. Perimeter Institute Faculty members Natalia Toro and Philip Schuster were awarded the honour in 2014, and Perimeter Institute Faculty member Freddy Cachazo earned the distinction in 2013.

Quotes about these strategic investments in Perimeter Institute:

Jeremy Freedman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Gluskin Sheff (supporters of the Freeman Dyson Chair): "We felt a resonance with Perimeter Institute because it was evident to us that they shared our belief that Canadian institutions can be among the best in the world at what they do. It all starts with attracting and developing world-class talent. Freddy Cachazo, for example, was recruited before he won the New Horizons Prize.  We invest in organizations with great teams and clear, ambitious missions, and Perimeter Institute is such an organization."

Find out about the chairholder Freddy Cachazo here.

Clay Riddell (of the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation, supporters of the Paul Dirac Chair): "Just 15 years since Perimeter's inception, the Institute's scientific excellence at global levels is outstanding. I attribute this to the smart vision, strong leadership, and successful partnership behind the Institute. I'm confident in Perimeter's national role in accelerating research and discovery, and that is why our family foundation is investing through the Institute's unique Chairs program."

Find out about the chairholder Pedro Vieira here.

Harbir Chhina, Executive Vice-President, Oil Sands, for Cenovus Energy (supporters of the Cenovus Energy James Clerk Maxwell Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute): "If we are to truly innovate, fundamental research is vital to the nation's future. Perimeter is spearheading the ecosystem necessary for the experiments and commercialization that follow. As a company that places a high value on innovation, we are pleased to join the Institute's partnership and support a scientist whose pathway into the quantum realm holds great promise for our technological future."

Find out about the chairholder Subir Sachdev here.

Peter Godsoe (supporter of the Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Family Foundation Award for Exceptional Emerging Talent): "We are interested in helping exceptional students at the PhD and Master's level, particularly those whose talents have not yet been fully appreciated. As an independent centre, Perimeter remains extremely flexible to seeking the best physics talent, regardless of geographic or economic background, and our foundation is pleased to support this effort."

Find out about Perimeter's outstanding training programs here.

Shari Austin, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship of RBC and Executive Director of the RBC Foundation (Presenting Partner of the International Summer School for Young Physicists): "Perimeter's programs for youth, teachers and the public are seeding future generations of scientific thinkers. RBC is proud to support high school students looking to learn more about theoretical physics prior to their post-secondary studies."

Find out about ISSYP and other educational outreach initiatives here.

About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world's largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today's theoretical physics is tomorrow's technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

SOURCE Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

For further information: Media Inquiries: Eamon O'Flynn, External Relations Specialist, eoflynn@perimeterinstitute.ca, (519) 569-7600 x5071, @Perimeter

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