R. Dwayne Miller

R. J. Dwayne Miller (b: April 18, 1956) received his BSc Honours Degree in chemistry and immunology from the University of Manitoba in 1978 and his PhD in 1983 from Stanford University. He gained a faculty position at the University of Rochester directly from his PhD and took a year leave to pursue a change in research direction as a NATO Science Fellow. He quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to full professor of chemistry and optics in 1992.

In 1995, he relocated his research group to the University of Toronto to take up the NSERC Lumonics Chair in Quantum Optics. The motivation for this move was to dedicate his group to the study of the structure-function correlation in biological systems. By designing a new generation of electron guns, his group was the first to be able to capture atomic motions with femtosecond time resolution. This work has realized a long held dream to watch atoms in real time during a chemical event, i.e. to watch atoms move during the breaking or making of a chemical bond. The making of this “Molecular Movie” was the primary reason for relocating his research group to the University of Toronto. A fifteen year effort was finally realized in 2003 with the cover story of Science first announcing it to the world. His group was a full 8 years ahead of similar efforts at major international facilities (Stanford, DESY/Germany, Spring-8 Japan, Swiss-FEL) based on X-ray Free Electron Lasers that cost $1B and to date his group is still leading using compact table top nonrelativistic electron sources to light up atomic motions.

This breakthrough work led to his appointment as Director of the Atomically Resolved Dynamics Division of the newly created Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPI-SDM) in Hamburg Germany. There is a new building being designed that will house up to 350 researchers to work in the very field that he helped create. In recognition of the University of Toronto’s role in fostering this work, he has been awarded an integrated Max Planck Division shared between the University of Toronto and the MPI-SDM. This unique partnership will give University of Toronto faculty and students access to the new sources developed by his group to view Nature at its fundamental (atomic) limits and to play leading roles in one of the hottest races in science at the present time.

Miller has published over 190 research articles, one book, and several seminal reviews. His research accomplishments have been recognized through an A. P. Sloan Fellowship, a Richard and Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Award, the John Charles Polanyi Lecture Award, The Rutherford Medal in Chemistry, a Humboldt Award, JSPS Fellowship, Global Lecturer Award (Japan) and the 2009 Chemical Institute of Canada Medal. Miller is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the CIC. He was the Founding Director of the Institute for Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto, and co-Scientific Director of the Advanced Laser Light Source, international laser facility in Varenne Quebec. He is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Chemical Physics; the Advisory Editorial Board of Chemical Physics, and Chemical Physics Letters; and has been Program Chair and General Chair of Ultrafast Phenomena, the most prestigious meeting in his field. In 2007, he was appointed University Professor at the University of Toronto for his accomplishments, an honour bestowed to fewer than 2% of the faculty.

Apart from his scientific exploits, he is also dedicated to the promotion of science education through high school outreach and teacher training programs. He has served as a Board Member and Chair of Scientists in School to help bring interactive science experiments to the classrooms for now over 500,000 children yearly. His most significant accomplishment in this regard came with his founding of Science Rendezvous (see www.sciencerendezvous.ca ) for an impression of the scale of the event). This annual event exposes the general public to the importance of science and provides a means to keep the public engaged and active in support of science that is so critical to our collective future. This event has now gone National in Canada and is the largest event of its kind in North America. He was awarded the McNeil Medal in 2011 from the Royal Society of Canada for his strong advocacy and leadership in the promotion of science to the general public.