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Earth 4D program co-director Barbara Sherwood Lollar receives Canada’s highest science honour

by Jon Farrow
May 1 / 19

University of Toronto geochemist is the 2019 recipient of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

The award, bestowed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), is “awarded annually to an individual who has demonstrated sustained excellence and influence in research for a body of work conducted in Canada that has substantially advanced the fields of natural sciences or engineering.”

Barbara Sherwood Lollar is widely recognized as an exceptional Canadian researcher and leader. Her discoveries about the nature of water and life deep underground have led to radical shifts in how we understand our planet. These insights are being applied both on Earth to monitor water contamination as well as in the development of strategies to look for life elsewhere in the Universe.

“It is incredibly exciting for NSERC's Herzberg Medal to recognize research on groundwater, the water cycle and subsurface processes,” says Sherwood Lollar. “No award of this nature is a solo act. The recognition shines a light on the broad and diverse teams of students, postdocs and collaborators who I have had the honour of working with over so many years.”

“The award recognizes the kind of interdisciplinary and paradigm changing research that CIFAR exemplifies and catalyzes,” she adds. “We are all looking forward to the immense opportunity Earth 4D - Subsurface Science and Exploration will provide to take this science to a whole new level.”


CIFAR counts 11 Herzberg Gold Medallists amongst its community of fellows. This includes 2018 medallist Lewis Kay and 2016 medallist Victoria Kaspi, who was the first woman to win the award.

According to NSERC, the award comes with a grant of up to $1 million to use for “personal university-based research or to direct in some related way, such as the establishment of scholarships or research Chairs in his or her name at Canadian universities.”