Martha Crago Awarded the German Order of Merit

Germany’s high honour goes to Martha Crago for her career-long commitment to promoting research and scientific collaboration between Canada and Germany
Martha Crago (left) receives the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany from Sabine Sparwasswer, Germany’s Ambassador to CanadaOwen Egan

Earlier today, Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation, was presented with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The award was handed over by Germany’s Ambassador to Canada, Ms. Sabine Sparwasser, at a special ceremony at McGill. The Order of Merit is awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for outstanding achievements in the political, economic, social, or intellectual realms.

“Striving for excellence, extending the frontiers of knowledge and investing into research – these are the factors that will enable our nations to be successful and free in the next century,” said Ambassador Sabine Sparwasser. “We honour those who promote science and research. Martha Crago has shown extraordinary dedication to fostering cutting edge Canadian-German science and research relations during her long and outstanding career. She played a key role in advancing flagship projects for the bilateral research collaboration. Among these projects are the Helmholtz International BigBrain Analytics and Learning Laboratory, an undertaking of Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives at McGill University, Helmholtz International, Forschungszentrum Jülich (FJZ), and Mila, which is mapping the human brain by using technologies such as artificial intelligence.”

Personal and professional connections to Germany

Crago (née Borgmann) has a close relationship to Germany, stemming from long-standing professional and family connections. At McGill, she has facilitated several research partnerships between Canada and Germany. Under her leadership, McGill, and its affiliate the Douglas Research Centre, have formed an international partnership with the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. This collaborative initiative is the first international effort devoted to understanding the relational biology of early-life adversity and psychiatric disorders.

As the Vice-President (Research) at Dalhousie University, Crago spearheaded a MOU between the Helmholtz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR), formerly known as Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, in Kiel, Germany, and the Halifax Marine Research Institute (HMRI). She hosted a visit by Chancellor Merkel to the University to celebrate the partnership.

In 2015, when families fled from war torn Syria and found refuge in Germany and Canada, Crago was influential in establishing funded partnerships between Canadian and German child development researchers and refugee and immigration scholars.

“Life-defining moments”

Crago was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2017 and awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of British Columbia in 2020. In 2009, she was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques by the French government. She was named a Woman of Excellence by the government of Nova Scotia in 2015 and Femme de Mérite de Montréal in 2000. She is also the recipient of a McGill University Prize for her contributions to research.

“I am deeply touched to receive the Knights Cross,” said Crago. “My connection to Germany has been woven throughout my life, decade by decade, from childhood summers spent with my German Canadian grandmother to my work connecting excellent Canadian researchers with outstanding German counterparts. I was in Berlin in August 1961 the day the Berlin Wall went up and I was also there on November 9, 1989, the day it fell. These life-defining moments continue to inspire me in the pursuit of ideas that transcend boundaries.”

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Gregg Blachford
2 years ago

I’m very happy to see Martha Crago continue to be celebrated for her ongoing and long time work encouraging and investing in multiple research initiatives and projects at McGill and elsewhere. But I like to also remember her for her support, help and encouragement in the early 2000s when myself and others were getting the McGill Subcommittee on Queer People up and running. At that time, she was the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and she helped in many ways when support at McGill was certainly not as widespread as it is today. I think her heart has always… Read more »

Donald Patriquin
2 years ago

I was so pleased to read of your receiving the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. You have always followed your heart wherever you worked, and you have worked tirelessly to make the world a better place. Thank you for that, Martha!