The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) announced earlier today 14 eminent Canadian scientists, scholars and researchers recognized for their outstanding achievements in their fields with awards and medals. Included in the 2019 recipients of RSC awards and medals is Paul François, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, who receives the Rutherford Medal in Physics in part for his research uncovering the biophysical principles of embryonic development, in particular vertebrae formation. He will formally receive his medal at the RSC’s Celebration of Excellence and Engagement in Ottawa on November 22.
The Rutherford award’s namesake is widely known as the “father of nuclear physics,” Nobel-prize winner and former McGill professor, Lord Ernest Rutherford. The committee mandated to select the winners of the Rutherford Memorial Medals are composed of disciplinary peers who are Fellows of the RSC.
“I am humbled and honoured to be awarded the Rutherford Medal in Physics,” said François. “This is a collective and interdisciplinary effort in collaboration with fantastic students, post-docs and experimental collaborators that is being recognized by the RSC.”
François’ primary area of research is theoretical and evolutionary biophysics. He focuses on biophysical and mathematical modelling of living systems and of their evolution. His approach combines physics, biology and computer science to model and understand the influence of biological and physical factors on complex biological systems like growing embryos or the immune system. François’ research group has developed tools, models, and computational approaches to answer theoretical questions like, “How do vertebrae form? How do gene networks evolve? Is it possible to simulate evolution? How do immune cells work?”
“I want to express my sincere congratulations to Professor François for being awarded the Rutherford Medal in Physics by the Royal Society of Canada,” said Professor Martha Crago, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation). “This well-deserved and impressive medal recognizes Professor François’ research excellence and the very important advances he contributed to the field of biophysics.”
François has previously been awarded the 2017 CAP Herzberg Medal from the Canadian Association of Physicists, McGill’s Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Emerging Researchers in 2015, and he was named a Simons Investigator in Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems by the Simons Foundation in 2014.