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Perimeter Director Robert Myers wins 2023 CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics

account_circle By Scott Johnston
The Canadian Association of Physicists has recognized Myers for his ground-breaking research in quantum field theory and quantum gravity, and his central role in the founding of Perimeter Institute.

Robert Myers has been awarded the 2023 Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics. Myers, who is a founding member of Perimeter Institute and its director since 2019, has made significant advancements in both quantum field theory and quantum gravity over the course of his career.

“Myers is not only an outstanding scientist who has made pioneering contributions to theoretical physics, but a leader who has changed the face of theoretical physics in Canada,” says Arthur McDonald, Gray Chair Emeritus at Queen’s University and 2015 Nobel Laureate.

The research Myers has carried out has pushed the boundaries of the field further than ever before, with advances that have enabled new, ongoing avenues of research.

“Myers has made ground-breaking contributions to a range of areas in foundational physics, largely centered on the quest to unify quantum theory and Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Some of his discoveries, such as the ‘Myers Effect’ and linear dilaton cosmology, are now textbook material,” the CAP wrote in a press release this week.

“He has also advanced our understanding of the AdS/CFT correspondence, a relation between quantum field theory and higher-dimensional gravity. Informed by this correspondence, Myers has applied ‘holographic’ methods to better understand quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force. Further, he produced the first rigorous derivation of holographic entanglement entropy and a new understanding of c-theorems in quantum field theory. His work in this area helped launch a flourishing international research program.”

Myers’ work has been recognized by his peers throughout his career, including the CAP Herzberg Medal (1999), the CAP-CRM Prize in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics (2005), the CAP-TRIUMF Vogt Medal (2012), and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013). He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2006. Since 2014, he has been named among the “world’s most influential scientists” five times by Clarivate Analytics/Thomson Reuters in their yearly reports.

Alongside Myers’ impressive record of research, he has also played a role in raising the profile of Canadian physics on the world stage. He was the first researcher to arrive at the fledgling Perimeter Institute in 2001, where he saw the opportunity to build something unique. As Perimeter grew, Myers helped chart the Institute’s path forward: he served as Scientific Director from 2007-2008, Faculty Chair from 2011-2018, and has been Perimeter’s Director since 2019.

Across his roles at Perimeter, Myers has strengthened the wider physics profession in Canada by building partnerships with other research centres and universities, encouraging joint faculty appointments, organizing influential conference series, and initiating collaborations across the country. The CAP Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Physics recognizes the impact that his efforts have had on reshaping the landscape of theoretical physics in Canada.

“I’ve been lucky in my career to be able to follow my passion exploring fundamental physics and to work with great colleagues, postdocs, and students. I’ve been doubly lucky to have the opportunity to help build the Perimeter Institute. I am honoured to be recognized by the CAP in this manner,” says Myers.

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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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