2021 Medal Recipients


The Medals Talk days were held on Friday, Dec. 17th, 2021 and Monday, Dec. 20th, 2021.  The Awards recognition ceremony took place on Monday, December 20th. 

PROGRAM  (all times are EST) : 

Friday December 17, 2021

15:00 – 15:30 :
Dr. Alexandre Blais,

Click here for Dr. Blais’s abstract.
Click here for Dr. Blais’s talk.

15:30 – 16:00 :
Dr. Vincent Tabard-Cossa,
CAP Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Industrial and Applied Physics

Click here for Dr. Tabard-Cossa’s abstract.
Click here for Dr. Tabard-Cossa’s talk.

16:00 – 16:30 :
Prof. Roger Melko,
CAP/DCMMP Brockhouse Medal

Click here for Prof. Melko’s abstract.
Click here for Prof. Melko’s talk.

16:30 – 17:00 :
Dr. Richard James Epp,
CAP Medal for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Physics

Click here for Dr. Epp’s abstract.
Click here for Dr. Epp’s talk.


Monday December 20, 2021

13:30 – 14:00 :
Prof. Robert Raussendorf,
CAP-CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

Click here for Prof. Raussendorf’s abstract.
Missed Prof. Raussendorf’s talk? A link will be provided here once it is posted to the CAP’s YouTube channel.

14:00 – 14:30 :
Prof. Sangyong Jeon,
CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal in Subatomic Physics

Click here for Prof. Jeon’s abstract.
Missed Prof. Jeon’s talk?  A link will be provided here once it is posted to the CAP’s YouTube channel.

14:30 – 15:00 :
Prof. Simon Caron-Huot,
CAP Herzberg Medal

Click here for Prof. Caron-Huot’s abstract.
Missed Prof. Caron-Huot’s talk? A link will be provided here once it is posted to the CAP’s YouTube channel.

15:00 – 15:30 :
Dr. Robert Brandenberger,
CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

Click here for Dr. Robert Brandenberger’s abstract.
Missed Dr. Brandenberger’s talk? A link will be provided here once it is posted to the CAP’s YouTube channel.

15:30 – 16:00 :
Medal ceremony with CAP Past-President, Rob Thompson
(each winner will give a short acceptance speech)

Thank you to all who attended the Medal Day talks and joined the awards recognition ceremony.




Friday December 17, 2021
15:00 – 15:30 | Dr. Alexandre Blais

“Quantum Information Processing With Superconducting Circuits”

By exploiting effects such as quantum superpositions and entanglement, quantum computers could solve problems that are intractable on standard, classical, computers. While building a full-scale quantum computer capable of rivaling with today’s supercomputers remains a challenge, the last few years have seen tremendous improvements in our ability to build small superconducting quantum processors and run simple algorithms on these processors. In parallel to these advances towards quantum information processing, much effort has been invested in using superconducting qubits as artificial atoms to explore the physics of quantum optics in novel parameter regimes. I will discuss recent developments and future challenges that lie ahead.
Back to Top.


15:30 – 16:00 | Dr. Vincent Tabard-Cossa

“Using Static Shocks to Sculpt Matter at the Nanoscale from understanding nanopore formation to commercializing a nanofabrication technology”

Solid-state nanopores are molecular-sized holes in thin dielectric membranes that translate the identity of a molecule into an electrical signal. Nanopores are being developed as single-molecule sensors for electronic sequencing and disease biomarker detection. However, scientific advances and their translation into practical applications, are hampered by the difficulty of fabricating solid-state nanopores. Standard nanofabrication techniques for achieving dimensional control at the nanometer scale are equipment-intensive and do not reach the level of precision required. In this talk, I will describe the solid-state nanopore fabricate method my lab has invented to address this challenge, called controlled breakdown. The method consists of applying an electric field across a membrane near its dielectric breakdown strength while monitoring the tunneling current. Eventually this drives a nanoscale dielectric breakdown event which is observed as an increase in the current, heralding formation of a nanopore. I will then present the recent innovations to productize this technology and show how we can automatically form nanopores down to 1 nm in diameter with angstrom precision with the simple push of a button. This technology is rapidly democratizing the field of solid-state nanopores and driving the development of applications for the life sciences, medical diagnostics, and digital information storage.
Back to Top.


16:00 – 16:30 | Prof. Roger Melko

“The future of quantum simulation”

One goal of computer simulations in many-body physics is to understand quantum phenomena found in matter and materials, by solving models of their microscopic interactions. While traditional computational tools have been widely successful in this task, they face fundamental challenges in accurately simulating some systems of critical interest, such as those with fermions or frustrated spins. However, with the advent of a new generation of programmable qubit devices, many of these systems of interest are poised to be synthesized in laboratories, where a high degree of experimental control allows for accurate projective measurements of the many-body wavefunction. This turns the exploration of quantum phenomena into a data-driven problem, well suited to modern methods in machine learning. In this talk, I will discuss the ongoing effort to unify these two concepts of quantum simulation into one common framework, and speculate on the future of scientific discovery in quantum many-body simulators that hybridize traditional and data-driven approaches.
Back to Top.


16:30 – 17:00 | Dr. Richard James Epp

“On Inspiration and Intuition in Teaching”

I have been extremely fortunate in my 20-year teaching career, with many people to thank. My strategy in teaching has always been two-fold: First, inspire students so they are motivated to do the hard work required for deep learning, and second, carefully build students’ intuition so that everything they learn, including even relativity and quantum, makes deep sense. In this talk I will discuss my teaching career through this lens, starting with my experiences at Perimeter Institute, where I was the third employee. As Perimeter grew around me, I had the wonderful opportunity to build, from scratch, its physics outreach program, e.g., creating the International Summer School for Young Physicists. I will also talk about my later work in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, where I was again given resources and freedom to develop new courses, including one on general relativity for second-year students, and a Big Ideas course that includes how physics is helping to answer the origin of life question. I will also discuss the completely revamped on-line COVID version of our first-year Mechanics course, which focused on remote but live collaborative group work inspired by physics education research, at the same time as bolstering students’ mental health.
Back to Top.


Monday December 20, 2021
13:30 – 14:00 | Prof. Robert Raussendorf

“Computationally Universal Phase of Quantum Matter”

We provide the first example of a symmetry protected quantum phase that has universal computational power. This two-dimensional phase is protected by one-dimensional linelike symmetries that can be understood in terms of the local symmetries of a tensor network. These local symmetries imply that every ground state in the phase is a universal resource for measurement-based quantum computation.

In my talk, I will first give an introduction to “computational phases of quantum matter’’—a subject which is by now 10 years old. Thereafter I will explain the distinction between 1D and higher dimensions for such computational phases, and describe our result in 2D.
Back to Top.


14:00 – 14:30 | Prof. Sangyong Jeon

“Quark-Gluon Plasma: The hottest, densest, and most perfect fluid”

Right after the Big-Bang, the Universe was so hot that quarks and gluons could not yet bind together to form normal nuclear matter. In the past decades, one of the main focuses of high-energy nuclear physics has been the re-creation and study of this primordial and extreme state of matter called Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). From the experiments conducted at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider (the LHC), we now know that QGP is the hottest (trillions of Kelvin) and densest (more than 10 times the density of a nucleus) matter ever created in any terrestrial experiments, yet it is the most ideal fluid ever observed. The complexity of strongly-interacting many-body Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) is what makes QGP such a rich and fascinating system to study.

In this talk, I will outline how this extreme state of matter is created in relativistic heavy ion collisions, and how the QCD phase diagram is explored, and how the Nuclear Theory Group at McGill has made significant contributions to the theoretical understanding of QGP properties over the years utilizing various theoretical tools ranging from finite temperature field theory to hydrodynamic simulations of QGP evolution in heavy ion collisions.
Back to Top.


14:30 – 15:00 | Prof. Simon Caron-Huot

“Solving strong interactions using self-consistency”

Nature appears to respect certain laws to exquisite accuracy, for example information never travels faster than light. These laws, codified in quantum field theory, underwrite the Standard Model of particle physics. Recently it is appreciated that this structure is so rigid that often a unique quantum field theory is compatible with a few additional assumptions. This gives an important new tool to theorists: internal consistency enables precise calculations. I will describe my contributions to this vast effort, and what it teaches us about strongly interacting field theories that appear in seemingly disjoint contexts: critical phenomena and quantum gravity.
Back to Top.


15:00 – 15:30 | Prof. Robert Brandenberger

“Challenges for Early Universe Cosmology”
Back to Top.