The prestigious Prix Marie-Victorin is awarded to the McGill Astrophysicist Victoria Kaspi. The CRAQ congratulates Prof. Kaspi for receiving this price, the highest distinction awarded by the Québec government in the domain of Natural Sciences and Engineering.
Within a few years, Victoria Kaspi became a undeniable world leader in the field of research on neutron star astrophysics. Since the discovery of the first neutron star in the late 1960s, these stars have fascinated astronomers. As the remnants of the explosion of massive stars, these minuscule celestial objects, with a size of the order 15-20 km in diameter, are heavier than our Sun. They spin at high velocities and possess magnetic fields billions of times larger than that of the Earth. Prof. Kaspi contributed to many discoveries that revolutionized the understanding of these peculiar stars. She also used the extreme properties of neutron stars to validate some theories of physics.
Victoria Kaspi was appointed professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1997, before joining McGill University in 1999. She authored more than 140 scientific publications and as many specialized conference presentations. Several of her discoveries, published in prestigious journals like Science and Nature, were relayed by the medias of the world.
For example, in 2005, her research group discovered about 20 pulsars in a single stellar cluster within the Milky Way. The following year, her team detected the fastest rotating pulsar. This neutron star, with a diameter of the order of 10 km and a mass larger than that of our own Sun spins on itself 716 times per seconds. This observation broke a 23-year-old record, shedding light on the knowledge of matter at very high densities. Last but not least, the most rigorous test of Einstein relativity performed so far was attributed to her research team in 2008.
Vicky, as her colleagues and students call her, is a woman known for her perseverance and for her innovative ideas. Founder of the astrophysics group at McGill, she also holds the Lorne-Trottier chair of astrophysics and cosmology as well as the Canadian research chair in observational astrophysics. Prof. Kaspi, known for her pedagogical skills, attracts the best students in astrophysics. In less than 10 years, she supervised about 30 graduate students.
The Prix du Québec are attributed each year to honor scientists who distinguished themselves for a remarkable career in their field or to recognize a successful career dedicated to the management and the development of research or the promotion of science and technology.
These prices are the highest distinction granted by the Québec government to acknowledge the contribution of social and scientific development in Québec. Each of the laureates receives a 30 000$ grant, a silver medal signed by an artist from Québec, a calligraphed parchment and a insignia bearing the sign of the Prix du Québec, a jewel exclusive to the the laureates.
The Prix Marie-Victorin decorates researchers in pure and applied sciences, excluding biomedical research. The disciplines rewarded by the Prix Marie-Victorin are natural sciences, engineering sciences and technologies as well as agricultural sciences.
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