Professor John C. Polanyi

Department of Chemistry

Appointed a University Professor in 1974

John Charles Polanyi, educated at Manchester University, England, was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and the National Research Council of Canada. He is presently a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (P.C.), and a Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.). His awards include the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London, and some thirty honorary degrees from six countries.

In the announcement of the Nobel Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy in October 1986 the citation for John Polanyi and his two co-recipients, Professor Dudley Herschbach of Harvard and Professor Juan T. Lee of the University of California at Berkeley, reads: "..for the development of a new field of research in chemistry – reaction dynamics – which has provided a much more detailed understanding of how chemical reactions take place". At the present time the Polanyi laboratory is studying chemical reactions one molecule at a time, under the tip of a Scanning Tunneling Microscope to determine the atomic motions giving rise to the reactive event.

John Polanyi has served on the Prime Minister of Canada's Advisory Board on Science and Technology and the Premier's Council of Ontario. He was a founding member of both the Committee on Scholarly Freedom of the Royal Society, and a further international human rights organization, the Canadian Committee for Scientists and Scholars, of which he is the current President. Additionally he was the founding Chairman of the Canadian Pugwash Group in 1960, and has been active for four decades in International Pugwash.

He has written extensively on science policy, the control of armaments, and peacekeeping. He is co-editor of a book, The Dangers of Nuclear War, and was a participant in the 'Canada 21' study of a 21st century defence posture for Canada. He was co-chair (with Sir Brian Urquhart) of the Department of Foreign Affairs International Consultative Committee on a Rapid Response Capability for the United Nations.

Click here for Professor Polanyi's website.