Dr. Arthur B. McDonald, FRSC, receives the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

“On behalf of our Council, our Academy of Sciences, our 2140 Fellows and the 54 Institutional Members that form part of the RSC family, I congratulate Arthur B. MacDonald, Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1997) and laureate of the Henry Marshall Tory Medal, our highest award for scientific achievement (2011). Your innovations, Dr. McDonald and the quality of your scientific research in advancing knowledge is recognized around the world, and we here in Canada are especially proud and inspired by your work and contributions,” said Graham Bell, President of the Royal Society of Canada.

The scientific breakthrough which is being celebrated advances our understanding of the universe, and also sets the path for new directions in the study of physics and astronomy. His innovative vision has made Canada a world-leader in the field of particle astrophysics and paved the way for fruitful global cooperation.

Dr. Arthur B. McDonald is Professor Emeritus at Queen's University. In 1989, he held the inaugural Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics and served as the director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, also known as SNOLAB. The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta and the Université de Montréal. The research and advancement of science which is being recognised by the Nobel Academy took place at the SNOLAB; an advanced research facility located 2 kms below the surface in the Vale Creighton Nickle Mine near Sudbury, Ontario. The experiments demonstrate that neutrinos from the sun were not disappearing on their way to earth and were captured with a different identity when arriving at SNO.

Dr. Arthur B. McDonald shares the Nobel Prize with Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, “for their key contributions to the experiments which demonstrated that neutrinos change identities.” The Royal Swedish Academy announced that these contributions demonstrate that subatomic particles called neutrinos change identities, also known as “flavours.” The neutrinos transform themselves between three types: electron-type, muon-type and tau-type. The discovery “has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter.”

Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Dr. McDonald earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Dalhousie University. He earned his PhD in physics from California Institute of Technology in 1969. He worked for Atomic Energy of Canada from the late 1960s until 1982, before moving to Princeton University for seven years. Dr. McDonald’s scientific work contributions have advanced our understanding of the universe, and also set the path for new directions in the study of physics and astronomy. Dr. McDonald becomes the eleventh Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada to receive a Nobel Prize, joining Willard Boyle, Physics, 2009; Bertram Brockhouse, Physics, 1994; Rudolph Marcus, Chemistry, 1992; Richard E. Taylor, Physics, 1990; John Polanyi, Chemistry, 1986; Henry Taube, Chemistry, 1983; Gerhard, Herzberg, Chemistry, 1971; Lester B. Pearson, Peace, 1957; Frederick G. Banting, Physiology or Medicine, 1923; and Ernest Rutherford, Chemistry, 1908.

The Royal Society of Canada is proud to count Dr. McDonald amongst our Fellowship, and offers our sincere congratulations on being recognized with a 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics.