Dwight Seferos awarded Rutherford Memorial Medal in chemistry

September 18, 2019 by Perry King

Professor Dwight Seferos is receiving the Rutherford Memorial Medal in chemistry from the Royal Society of Canada. Two medals – in chemistry and physics – are awarded annually for outstanding research.

As part of its mandate to promote academic excellence, the Royal Society administers more than 20 awards  – many named after great Canadian scholars – for outstanding achievement in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts. This award is named after Lord Rutherford of Nelson, a leader in nuclear research.

Seferos is a synthetic chemist devoted to using modified natural compounds to make high-tech items like batteries for transportation and eco-friendly clothing.

The McLean Award-winning scientist and his lab have been busy this year, developing synthetic compounds that replicate “high value” plastics but are greener.

“We’re not making things that are structural components – they’re usually some kind of electronic or optical material, a high-tech version of plastic,” says Seferos, whose lab is also developing applications such as lighting displays and thermoelectric generators. “We’re still trying to think about recycling down the line, recovering them, because that’s a real problem.”

His focus is also on his startup, Pliant Power Devices, an endeavour he continues to develop with his former student Tyler Schon. With the help of U of T incubator hubs UTEST and the Entrepreneurship Hatchery over the last two years, the startup has started to draw international interest. The goal is to reach a level of profitability while still applying the fundamental science.

Seferos, who was given an NSERC E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship this past spring, says “it’s been a great year in terms of awards, but I don’t think getting them changes too much about your daily life. You still go to work, work with students, publish your results and write grant [proposals].

“It’s nice to get an award like this and the Royal Society is prestigious. To be recognized is really amazing.”

Read more at U of T News.