Meet Radio-Canada’s 2012 Scientist of the Year: U of T's Pierre Savard
University of Toronto physicist Pierre Savard has been named Radio-Canada’s 2012 Scientist of the Year for his remarkable contribution, along with other Canadian scientists on the ATLAS experiment team, to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle in July of 2012.
Savard, a TRIUMF scientist and one of six high-energy physicists from U of T involved in the project, played a key role in what has been described as one of the most important scientific quests of a generation.
"This is a wonderful public recognition for Pierre and the entire ATLAS team," said Professor Ray Jayawardhana, senior adviser on science engagement to U of T President David Naylor.
"The Higgs discovery has captured people's imagination, as we saw at the Science Frontiers event on campus last December, where Pierre was one of the speakers and quite a few kids lined up to ask questions," Jayawardhana said. "This accolade from Radio-Canada offers another opportunity to showcase the exciting work that Canadian scientists are involved in."
The Higgs boson is a massive elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. The model, which has been the basis of particle physics for more than 30 years, needs the Higgs boson: it is the missing ingredient that is postulated to explain the existence of mass in the universe.
ATLAS is one of two main experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator. The U of T team – which also includes David Bailey, Peter Krieger, Robert Orr, Pekka Sinervo and William Trischuk – in addition to other contributions, built an essential component of the ATLAS detector and sifted through ATLAS data using the SciNet computing resources at U of T to identify collisions containing Higgs boson candidates.
Radio-Canada’s Scientist of the Year is awarded to teams or individuals who have distinguished themselves via a discovery, published work, or remarkable achievement. The honour, first granted in 1987, is now in its 26th year.
Savard is scheduled to appear on the radio show Les années lumière, featuring host Yanick Villedieu, on Sunday, January 27 from noon to 1 pm on Première Chaîne (95.1 FM in Montreal).
Télévision de Radio-Canada’s Découverte will also feature an interview with Savard later that same Sunday at 6:30 pm.
“Pierre Savard played a key role as the Canadian ATLAS physics coordinator,” said Meric Gertler, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “He, alongside his U of T colleagues, was instrumental in telling the Higgs boson story to the public through the media. We are extremely proud to count Pierre Savard and the other ATLAS team members among our faculty.”