Miriam received the award on December 15, 2020 in a virtual ceremony hosted by The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and The Honourable Ross Romano, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities.
Upon accepting the prize, Miriam said:
“I have dedicated much of my career to the search for dark matter, a pursuit that is at once humbling and inspiring. To realize that all our advances in science and technology have been achieved with a model that explains, with extraordinary precision, the fundamental composition of just 5% of the universe. To imagine what more we have the potential to achieve if we can unlock the rest, and to be so bold as to chase that opportunity -- that is the ultimate expression of hope for the future of our civilization.
If we are to understand more than just a sliver of the universe, we must open our field to more than just a sliver of would-be explorers. We need contributions from all our brightest minds, which is why Equity, Diversity & Inclusion work in science is such a priority for me.
Especially in these difficult times, we must not fear the darkness, we must learn to see in the dark instead.”
These prestigious prizes are awarded in honour of Ontario’s Nobel Prize winner John C. Polanyi, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research in chemical kinetics.
The innovative and ground-breaking work of university researchers in Ontario has been recognized with the award of the 2020 Polanyi Prizes, ranging from discoveries that could lead to game-changing advances in green energy, new ways to understand market forces, better mental health outcomes for those suffering from depression and new insights into the nature of the universe.
The Polanyi Prizes are awarded each year to innovative researchers who are either continuing postdoctoral work or have recently gained a faculty appointment. Each of the five winners receives $20,000 in recognition of their exceptional research in the fields of chemistry, literature, physics, economic science and physiology/medicine.
When asked what this award means to her, Miriam said “This prize is not only a great honour, it is also an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the importance of the scientific research community in these difficult times. Knowing that the province of Ontario stands behind the research I am conducting, and shares my enthusiasm for unlocking the mysteries of the universe, helps inspire me to keep going.”