Awards and Prizes

René Doyon, Radio-Canada’s Scientist of the Year… again!

René Doyon with hosts Sophie-Andrée Blondin and Charles Tisseyre of Radio-Canada. Credit @Martin Ouellet-Diotte.
René Doyon with hosts Sophie-Andrée Blondin and Charles Tisseyre of Radio-Canada. Credit @Martin Ouellet-Diotte.

We are proud to announce today that Radio-Canada is awarding its 2022 Scientifique de l’année Award to our Director, astrophysicist René Doyon, for his contribution as Principal Investigator for the Canadian instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Dr. Doyon, who also won the Scientifique de l’année Award in 2008 with his colleagues Christian Marois and David Lafrenière for taking the first-ever image of an exoplanetary system, wins it for a second time this year: a first for a winner!

Dr. Doyon’s main areas of expertise are the study of exoplanets and the development of astronomical observation instruments. As Principal Investigator of the Canadian participation in the James Webb Space Telescope project, he enabled a large Canadian team to provide one of the four scientific instruments of the telescope, an observing instrument, as well as a guidance device essential to its proper operation. Designed in particular to study the atmosphere of exoplanets and determine their chemical composition, the James Webb Space Telescope is already helping to push back the boundaries of our knowledge. After more than 20 years of development and construction, it delivered its first images of the Universe last July, revealing the splendor and immensity of the cosmos with unequaled precision.

Loïc Albert, NIRISS Instrument Scientist who has worked with M. Doyon for 25 years. Credit: É. Artigau.

René Doyon has built a strong team that includes many key members, many of whom played crucial roles in the James Webb Telescope adventure. One of them is researcher Loïc Albert, who works in particular on the JWST’s NIRISS scientific instrument. He provides a testimony on his work with Mr. Doyon, which started in 1999: “René is really passionate about science. His enthusiasm crosses time and the different projects he leads. It is in the most critical moments that he comes up with unexpected solutions that only he can come up with. Although he stands out for his leadership and his energy to lead projects to observe the sky, René remains with both feet on the ground. For he is a warm, friendly human being who listens to the people around him. Bravo René!”

René Doyon (right) with Radio-Canada’s senior vice president, Michel Bissonnette, Credit: Martin Ouellet-Diotte.

Radio-Canada’s senior vice-president, Michel Bissonnette, underlines René Doyon’s exceptional contribution to science in these terms: “Mr. René Doyon is one of those researchers who has the ability to give us hope, to make us dream. Through his quest, he tries to answer fundamental questions such as the one everyone is asking: are we alone in the Universe? No one has the answer, but the unprecedented power of the telescope to which he contributed could reveal many secrets.”

On January 29 at noon, Dr. Doyon will be interviewed by host Sophie-Andrée Blondin in a one-hour interview recorded live in front of a live audience on ICI PREMIÈRE’s program Les années lumière. At 6:30 p.m., on the program Découverte, on ICI TÉLÉ, host Charles Tisseyre will present a report by Gaëlle Lussiaà-Berdou and François Perré that will allow us to better understand Mr. Doyon’s exceptional contribution to science.


About the award

The Radio-Canada Scientifique de l’année Award was first presented in 1987 and is now in its 36th year. It is awarded annually to a person or team who, during the past year, has distinguished themselves by a discovery, a publication or an achievement worthy of recognition.