Dr. Albert Stolow receives 2018 John C. Polanyi Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry

News Release

Dr. Albert Stolow

January 23, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – National Research Council of Canada

New technologies and products such as molecular electronic devices, laser material processing, quantum sensors, photo-activated drugs, and responsive materials all depend on understanding how light can modify matter at the molecular and atomic levels. This understanding depends on the work of dedicated scientists like Dr. Albert Stolow, who the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) are pleased to announce has received the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s 2018 John C. Polanyi Award.

The award is presented annually to a scientist carrying out research in Canada in physical, theoretical or computational chemistry, or chemical physics. Dr. Stolow is a world-leading physicist whose research uses ultrafast laser technology to both make ‘molecular movies’ and to ‘direct’ atoms and molecules to perform new roles via quantum control. His work continues to have a major international impact in the areas of ultrafast molecular and electronic dynamics, strong-field physics of molecules, quantum control, and coherent non-linear Raman microscopy. His current work in biophotonics uses light to make real-time videos of live cells, and has also been applied to study the composition within ore and rocks, opening up the new field of geophotonics.

Dr. Stolow founded the Molecular Photonics Group at the National Research Council where he maintains an ongoing collaborative research program. He is the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Photonics and Professor of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Ottawa.

He is the only award recipient to have studied under 1986 Nobel Laureate Dr. John C. Polanyi, after whom the award is named. Dr. Polanyi is currently a faculty member at the University of Toronto.


“As John’s former student, I am especially delighted to receive the John C. Polanyi Award from the Canadian Society for Chemistry. An amateur watercolorist, John would make analogies between research and painting. He described science as an unfinished canvas with parts where many have worked and one must paint there with a small brush, and with parts where no one has painted and there one must paint with a big brush. His advice to me upon graduation was to ‘paint with a big brush’. I have tried to follow his advice. He wisely didn’t tell me that this is very difficult. A lot of paint gets spilled before you can find the line of a scientific truth.”

– Dr. Albert Stolow, scientist at the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Ottawa

“The NRC is thrilled to see Dr. Stolow recognized for his foundational scientific work. This work will revolutionize our dynamical view of nature and bring technological advances to a range of industrial sectors, from medical research to mining. His collaborative research with uOttawa shows the great potential for NRC partnerships with universities to advance shared science goals.”


Dr. Geneviève Tanguay, Vice-President of Emerging Technologies at the National Research Council of Canada

“We are truly fortunate to have a researcher and educator of Albert Stolow’s stature as a member of the Faculty of Science. He has been instrumental in positioning our Photonics researchers at uOttawa as one of the top research teams in the world.’’

– Steve Perry, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa

Quick Facts

  • Dr. Stolow is an adjunct professor of Chemistry and Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston, and a Graduate Faculty Scholar in the Department of Physics, University of Central Florida.

  • Dr. Stolow studied Chemistry and Physics at Queen’s University, and obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Toronto in 1988, studying under Nobel Laureate John C. Polanyi. He was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from 1989-1992 where he worked with Nobel Laureate Yuan T. Lee.

  • Dr. Stolow joined the National Research Council of Canada in 1992, rising to the position of Principal Research Officer and Group Leader. In 2014, he assumed the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Photonics at the University of Ottawa, while still maintaining a vibrant collaborative research program with the NRC.

  • Dr. Stolow is a Fellow of the Max Planck-uOttawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics, the American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of America. He has won several national prizes including the American Physical Society’s 2017 Earle K. Plyler Prize, the Laidler Award of the Canadian Society of Chemistry, and the Barringer Award of the Spectroscopy Society of Canada. He is a recipient of the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

  • Dr. Stolow sits on the editorial boards of numerous international journals and is an advisory board member of several international research institutions. He is a member of the executive committee of the American Physical Society’s Division of Laser Science and is Chair-Elect (2018) of its Division of Chemical Physics.

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