The Canada Council for the Arts Announces the 2020 Killam Program Winners and Recipients 

May 26, 2020

Prestigious program recognizes impacts of Canada’s researchers and scholars

Ottawa, May 26, 2020 ― The Canada Council for the Arts today announced the winners and recipients of the 2020 Killam Program. Comprised of the Killam Prizes and the Killam Research Fellowships, this distinguished program awards more than one million dollars every year, recognizing active scholars and researchers who have dedicated their careers to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and meeting challenges faced in daily life. 

As the entire world faces unprecedented challenges, our belief in the vital importance of advanced research is stronger than ever. That’s why it’s important to us to celebrate the excellence of scholars whose work contributes to improving the lives of Canadians and people all around the world. This year, we are thrilled to see that the extraordinary contributions of women are centre stage—in fact, never before have so many women been recognized at once by the Killam Program. 

Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts 

Mrs. Killam’s purpose in establishing the Killam Trusts was to help in the building of Canada’s future by encouraging advanced research and study. The 2020 Killam Prize winners and Research Fellowship recipients join an elite group of researchers who contribute to global excellence in a sustainable, inclusive and flourishing Canada. We warmly welcome them to the Killam family as we celebrate their passion, drive, creativity and accomplishments.

Bernard F. Miller, QC, Managing Trustee, Killam Trusts 

The Killam Prizes 

The Killam Prizes honour eminent Canadian scholars in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. The work of these researchers and scholars has an outstanding impact on the lives of Canadians and people around the world. They each receive a $100,000 prize. 

The 2020 prize winners are: 

  • Social Sciences – Cecilia Benoit is a scientist at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and professor in the Department of Sociology. Hailing from the Qalipu First Nation of Newfoundland heritage, she is a staunch advocate of the rights of marginalized communities and her work with socially excluded and stigmatized groups has made important contributions to Canadian public policy in the fields of women’s health, maternity care and health service equity. 
  • Humanities – Sarah Carter is Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta, as well as Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Her extensive research and writings have transformed our understanding of Western Canadian colonial, Indigenous, social and women’s history. 
  • Health Sciences – Alan Evans is a James McGill Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering, a researcher at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and holds the Victor Dahdaleh Chair in Neurosciences at McGill University. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on brain imaging and the modelling of brain networks. His project, the BigBrain, succeeded in mapping the brain to 20 microns resolution, the highest resolution 3D brain template ever created. 
  • Engineering – Edward H. Sargent is a university professor and Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto. He is a pioneer in the field of nanotechnology, creating new materials that have led to the development of several enhanced optoelectronic devices. He has also made significant contributions to clean energy, vastly increasing the efficiency of solar panel technology. 
  • Natural Sciences – Barbara Sherwood Lollar is a professor at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory. Her research has profoundly influenced our understanding of planetary geology; her discovery of the existence of billion-year-old groundwater deep within the Canadian Precambrian Shield was hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries of 2013.  

The Killam Research Fellowships

The Killam Research Fellowships provide six outstanding scholars with a combined total of $840,000 for two years of teaching and administrative release, enabling them to carry out research projects of broad significance and widespread interest. 

The 2020 research fellowship recipients are:

  • Eric Brown, McMaster University – Project: A fresh approach to antibacterial drug discovery for drug-resistant infections 
  • Jennifer Clapp, University of Waterloo – Project: The Rise of Agrifood Mega-Companies: Implications for the Global Food System
  • Myriam Denov, McGill University – Project: Born of War: The Perspectives, Realities, and Needs of Children Born of Wartime Rape
  • Joseph Heath, University of Toronto – Project: How to criticize society
  • Milica Radisic, University of Toronto – Project: Heart-on-a-chip delivers on the promise of personalized medicine
  • Nathalie Tufenkji, McGill University – Project: Impacts of plastic pollution in northern climates

Learn more about the Killam Program

  • The prestigious Killam Program encompasses the Killam Prizes and the Killam Research Fellowships.
  • The winners and recipients are selected by a committee of peers. 
  • The Killam Prize was first awarded in 1981.
  • Previous winners include renowned scholars such as Brenda Milner, Victoria Kaspi, Mark Wainberg, Molly Shoichet, John Borrows, Yoshua Bengio and Nobel Prize winners Arthur McDonald and John Polanyi, to name but a few.
  • The Canada Council received a donation through the will of Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam in 1965 to establish a fellowship program (1967).
  • In total, the Killam Trusts are valued at approximately $500 million, of which the Canada Council portion is currently about $70 million.

About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene that reaches across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder.

The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts.

Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts.

The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) Program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries.

The Council’s Art Bank provides the broader public with a collection of over 17,000 Canadian contemporary art works to enjoy through its rental, loan, and dissemination programs.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO operates under the authority of the Council. It shares a common history and future with the Council in terms of sustainable development characterized by the arts, science, culture, equality, and peace.

Media contacts

To book interviews with the winners and recipients:

Charlene Coy, C2C Communications
Cell phone: 416-451-1471

Canada Council for the Arts:

Joly-Anne Ricard
Communications Advisor
Telephone: 1-800-263-5588 (extension 4166)
Cell phone: 343-998-2627