John Charles Polanyi

Physical Chemistry

Won the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry for using chemi-luminescence of molecules to explain energy relationships in chemical reactions

"The most exciting thing in the twentieth century is science. Young people ask me if this country is serious about science. They aren’t thinking about the passport that they will hold, but the country that they must rely on for support and encouragement."

January 23, 1929

Berlin, Germany, but grew up in Manchester, England

Toronto, Ontario

Family Members
  • Father: Michael Polanyi
  • Mother: Magda Elizabeth (Kemeny)
  • Children: Michael and Margaret

Busy, boyish, enthusiastic, helpful

Favorite Music

Other Interests
Skiing, walking, art, literature, poetry, peace activism

Professor of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto


  • BSc, Manchester University, Manchester, England 1949
  • MSc, Manchester University, Manchester, England 1950
  • PhD, Manchester University, Manchester, England 1952

  • Marlow Medal of the Faraday Society, 1962
  • Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences, 1965
  • Fellow of Royal Society of Canada, 1966
  • Royal Society of London, 1971
  • Officer of the Order of Canada, 1974
  • Foreign Member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1976
  • Tory Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, 1977
  • Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1978
  • Companion of the Order of Canada, 1979
  • Wolf Prize, 1982
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986
  • Member of the Pontifical Academy, Rome, 1986
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1988
  • Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Prize, 1988
  • Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London, 1989
  • Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, 2008


His father, Michael Polanyi. E.W.R. Steacie a Canadian pioneer in Chemistry

Last Updated
June 27, 2011


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