Two men working together on a blackboard

How philanthropy fuels “profound results” in fundamental physics

Although the science on the blackboards is complex, the basic Perimeter equation is simple: assemble the world’s most brilliant physicists and challenge them to tackle the universe’s biggest challenges in search of answers that will advance humanity.

In that Perimeter equation, there has always been one constant: the support of visionaries who understand the power of investing in fundamental scientific research.

Perimeter exists and thrives thanks to a community of partners who share our outlook to a brighter future through pioneering science and education. The power of this engaged community is remarkable. In the span of two short decades, Perimeter has grown from an unprecedented idea into a world-leading centre for theoretical physics.

Their investment in theoretical physics is an investment in people — the most brilliant researchers today, and the generations of exceptional students to come. And the future is bright. Advancements made in theoretical physics today lead to breakthroughs tomorrow in technology, medicine, finance, education, and other fields.

Perimeter Board Chair Mike Serbinis thinks of Perimeter as a 100-year project: “Perimeter is a long-term investment that will pay off exponentially. The work we do here will yield profound results — not only for the future of technology, but for the future of Canada and all of humanity.”

Below, we highlight some of our visionary donors for their long-term support as vital parts of the Perimeter equation.

BMO Financial Group

In 2010, BMO Financial Group made its largest single donation to support science and technology at the time in Canada — a $4 million commitment to Perimeter. The funds were matched by Perimeter to create one of our very first named chairs: the BMO Financial Group Isaac Newton Chair in Theoretical Physics. A decade on, this historic gift is a mainstay in the Perimeter community and is held by Perimeter’s most senior scientist and leader: Robert Myers.

Myers is an internationally renowned theoretical physicist who has been named one of the “world’s most influential scientists” numerous times by Clarivate Analytics. His research is focused on new approaches to quantum field theory, the framework of ideas and equations we use to understand matter and energy.

Senior BMO leaders are active members of Perimeter’s Emmy Noether Council, including Laura Reinholz (Head of Workplace Experience at BMO Financial Group, Greater Toronto Area) and July Barker-Merz (Regional President, Greater Toronto Area).

The Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Family Foundation

The Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Family Foundation Award for Exceptional Emerging Talent was established in 2014 to support the training of graduate students at Perimeter. Each year, two exceptional young physicists receive this crucial support, and their talents are cultivated in the Perimeter environment. With $1 million invested in the endowed fund, the power of this gift is already evident. The earliest award holders have successfully completed their PhD studies and are currently pursuing postdoctoral studies in theoretical physics at prestigious institutions around the world.

Peter Godsoe (O.C., O.Ont.) is an Emeritus member of Perimeter’s Board of Directors (2008–17).

The Riddell Family Charitable Foundation

In 2020, a $10-million commitment from the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation created the Clay Riddell Centre for Quantum Matter. The gift was made in honour of the late Clay Riddell (decd. 2018), a distinguished Canadian entrepreneur who held a profound enthusiasm for scientific exploration. The Centre is a research hub where scientists seek to harness the intrinsic properties of quantum mechanics to understand and uncover completely new states of matter. The potential impacts are vast – new quantum materials are poised to revolutionize technology, drug discovery, and other branches of applied physics.

The Foundation’s support of Perimeter extends back to 2015 with the establishment of the Clay Riddell Paul Dirac Chair in Theoretical Physics, held by Faculty member Pedro Vieir (2015-20). A rising young star, Vieira has been recognized on the world stage as a recipient of the 2018 Sackler Prize for his work in quantum field theory, and the 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize.

Krembil Foundation

Known for its long-term approach to accelerating research, expanding knowledge, and impacting lives through scientific discoveries that will lead to advances in medicine, the Krembil Foundation made its first gift to theoretical physics in 2014. This initial investment created two prestigious research chairs: the Krembil William Rowan Hamilton Chair, held by Kevin Costello, and the Krembil Galileo Galilei Chair, held by Davide Gaiotto.

Working together, the researchers have become a powerhouse team placing Perimeter – and Canada – at the forefront of mathematical physics. Inspired by their momentum, the Krembil Foundation renewed its support in 2019, elevating their giving to $12 million. The years ahead promise new breakthroughs at the intersection of two disciplines where few others have ventured.

Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc.

Canadian independent wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. has generously supported Perimeter Institute since 2015. The organization’s contribution of $4 million over 10 years created the Gluskin Sheff/Onex Freeman Dyson Chair, held by Freddy Cachazo, whose pioneering work in quantum field theory is now textbook material. He has been awarded several prestigious awards for his work, including the 2016 CAP-CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics.

Jeff Moody, President and CEO of Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., now serves as member of Perimeter Institute’s Investment Committee.

Cenovus Energy

An integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, Cenovus Energy has focused its support on collaborative initiatives at Perimeter, first by establishing the Cenovus Energy James Clerk Maxwell Chair (Visiting) in 2015, held by Subir Sachdev of Harvard University (2015-20). A subsequent gift supported the Distinguished Visiting Research Chairs program from 2017 to 2020, enabling top physicists from around the world to make Perimeter their second research home. In addition to conducting research and forging collaborations, Visiting Chairs contribute to the Institute’s numerous outreach and training programs.

Perimeter Board Vice-Chair Jane Kinney is a Cenovus Energy director; Harbir Chhina, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer of Cenovus Energy, is a member of Perimeter's Leadership Council.

RBC Foundation

As the Presenting Sponsor of the International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP) since 2011, the RBC Foundation has invested more than $1 million to inspire and encourage high school students who intend to pursue physics at the university level.

ISSYP is a two-week intensive summer program for teenagers, with lectures on topics including quantum mechanics, interspersed with fun activities and socializing. Each year’s cohort is gender-balanced, bringing more young women into the physics pipeline. Currently in its 19th year, ISSYP boasts more than 850 alumni in 60 countries, many of which have gone on to excel in STEM education and careers.

Susan Baxter, Vice Chairman within the Enterprise Strategic Client Group at RBC, is a member of Perimeter's Board of Directors.

Perimeter thanks its universe of supporters for being essential parts of the equation. Together, we have made Perimeter one of the most exciting places to do great science in the world.

As we ambitiously pursue our vision to transform the future, we seek additional partners to build the critical mass needed to make breakthroughs. For information on how to join us and be a part of the equation, please contact the Perimeter Advancement Team.