Professor Bernie Kraatz is one of 11 University of Toronto researchers named fellows of the prestigious Royal Society of Canada – considered a major achievement for scholars in this country.
A professor in the department of physical and environmental sciences at U of T Scarborough, Kraatz wants to prevent diseases by creating tools that can help spot their underlying causes.
Kraatz is focused on creating new sensor materials that allow him to detect biomolecules, such as DNA and proteins – and even biological processes – that play a role in everything from cell division to cancer and viral infections.
He’s also conducting research that looks at the underlying molecular causes for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
“We’re looking at identification of organisms at the genetic level, but we’re also looking at detection of pathogens in the environment,” says Kraatz, who is also U of T Scarborough’s vice-principal of research.
Finding ways to translate such research into real-world solutions can take decades – which is why Kraatz is grateful for his lab colleagues and students who have helped push ideas forward.
“You can have this crazy idea and a non-optimal model system to work it out,” he says. “But taking that next step to go to a model system that actually does allow you to answer that question in a definitive way – it’s really important.”
He hopes his passion for science rubs off on his students.
“I love discussing science with my students, first of all. This is fun, this is a dialogue. Students have ideas – I have ideas and we sort of bounce them off each other,” he says. “Students come up with brilliant ideas and offer some brilliant solutions to problems.”
In his role as vice-principal of research, Kraatz works to promote outstanding research and scholarship in all disciplines at U of T Scarborough while also advancing collaborations and enhancing the research environment for students.
He considers himself a role model at the university – a responsibility he takes seriously.
“Ultimately, [the fellowship] enhances visibility and you have an obligation to contribute to the Royal Society, but also to university life by mentoring young faculty and students,” says Kraatz.
“Making sure they’re on a productive path going forward is critical.”
“The University of Toronto congratulates its newest Royal Society of Canada fellows on their achievement and looks forward to the outstanding work they will continue to produce as members of the national academy,” says Vivek Goel, vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic partnerships.
“These 11 researchers, representing a wide array of disciplines, are contributing to new knowledge, insights and innovations that impact the lives of Canadians and people around the world.”
Founded in the 1880s, the Royal Society of Canada recognizes scholars and their work in order to help them build a better future in Canada and around the world.
Fellows have made remarkable contributions in the arts, humanities and sciences and will be mobilized to contribute knowledge, understanding, and insight through engagement with the Canadian public.
They are nominated and elected by their Royal Society of Canada peers.
U of T’s 11 new fellows will join over 370 Royal Society of Canada fellows from U of T, and more than 2,000 active fellows overall.