By Meaghan Thurston
Professor Aashish Clerk has been described as a “rising research star,” but it would be a more accurate to say that his research career has taken a quantum leap in recent years, boosted by a string of prestigious honours.
Widely considered one of the world’s most prominent young theorists focusing on the physics of engineered quantum systems, today he was awarded the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). The RSC is a national academy which recognizes academic excellence, but it also advises governments and organizations, and promotes Canadian culture.
The Rutherford medal is awarded for outstanding research in any branch of physics. The award is named for the “father of nuclear physics,” Nobel-prize winner and former McGill professor, Lord Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford’s pioneering research carried out between the years of 1898 and 1907 at McGill garnered him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908.
The committee mandated to select the winner of the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics is composed of disciplinary peers who are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. “It’s a real honour to be recognized by the Royal Society in this way,” Clerk told the Reporter. “It’s also a great testament to the hard work of the talented students, postdocs and collaborators I’ve had the good fortune of working with during my time at McGill.”
“Prof. Clerk has proudly represented McGill on the national and international scientific stage since joining our University in 2004,” said Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal, Research and International Relations. “His research on engineered quantum systems, and his commitment to collaboration, has the potential to develop quantum technologies with future applications across the disciplines – for example, in metrology, communication and information processing. As a Rutherford medalist, he follows in the footsteps of one of the world’s finest scientists.”
Clerk was honored last year with membership to the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Canada’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. In 2014, he was awarded the NSERC E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship, which is given to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising scientists and engineers who are faculty members of Canadian universities. He also includes among his accolades, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and a Canada Research Chair.
In the video below, Clerk talks about the potential applications of his research.