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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Neil Turok receives honorary doctorate from the University of Guelph

Perimeter Institute Director Neil Turok was recently honoured by the University of Guelph as part of their three-day winter convocation.

At an afternoon ceremony for graduates of the College of Biological Science and the College of Physical and Engineering Science on Wednesday, February 20, Turok gave the convocation address and received an honorary doctorate.

Speaking to graduates, Turok recounted his own scientific journey, his efforts to transform high-level science education in Africa through the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), and his appreciation of the University of Guelph’s support of AIMS, Perimeter’s global outreach partner. He ended his remarks by advising graduates to leave their mark on the world. “I view life as a gift and every day as an opportunity we should make the most of,” said Turok.

“Find something that you really want to do, which you think will make the world a better place. It may be in seeking out new knowledge. It may be in applying existing knowledge. Go after a good cause, with all your heart. You will have fun and fulfillment. You’ll get to work with wonderful people and live a life full of meaning. The world changes for the better one idea at a time. Let one of those be yours.”

Over his career, Turok has helped develop two of the main candidate theories for the origin of the universe: open inflation, which he developed with Perimeter Distinguished Visiting Research Chair Stephen Hawking, and the cyclic universe scenario, which he developed with Distinguished Visiting Research Chair Paul Steinhardt.

Turok was the 2012 CBC Massey Lecturer, delivering his lectures, The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos, to sold-out audiences across Canada. He also holds honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.  

Pictures from Neil Turok's convocation address at University of Guelph
Perimeter Director Neil Turok receives an honorary doctorate from University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee / Turok delivers his convocation address (Photos credit: Grant Martin Photography)


Neil Turok earned his PhD at Imperial College London in 1983. He joined Perimeter Institute as its Director in 2008, having previously held positions as a Professor of Physics at Princeton University and Chair of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Turok’s work focuses on developing fundamental theories of cosmology and new observational tests. His predictions for the correlations of the polarization and temperature of the cosmic background radiation and of the galaxy-cosmic background correlations induced by dark energy have been confirmed. With Stephen Hawking, he discovered instanton solutions describing the birth of inflationary universes. His work on open inflation forms the basis of the now-popular multiverse paradigm. With Paul Steinhardt, he developed a cyclic model for cosmology, according to which the big bang is explained as a collision between two ‘brane-worlds’ in M-theory. Among his many honours, Turok was awarded Sloan and Packard Fellowships and the 1992 James Clerk Maxwell medal of the Institute of Physics (UK). He is a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Fellow in Cosmology and Gravity and was selected to deliver the 2012 CBC Massey Lectures. Born in South Africa, Turok founded the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa. For his work with AIMS, he has been recognized with a TED Prize and awards from the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WSIE) and the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE).  

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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