Petro Canada—McMaster University Young Innovator Award

Petro-Canada and McMaster University are pleased to join together in celebrating the achievements of an outstanding faculty innovator.  The Award provides an opportunity to build on the connection between research and teaching by engaging undergraduate students in research.

The call for this award has now closed. The next call will occur in January 2019.

The 2018/2019 recipient of the Petro Canada—McMaster University Young Innovator Award is:  

Kathryn Grandfield

Cheryl Quenneville

Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
McMaster University

Learn more about Cheryl Quenneville’s award winning research.

Dr. Quenneville’s research will focus on severe fractures of the bones of the human body that occur frequently as the result of trauma such as automotive collisions and falls. These can have significant long-term implications both for the individual and society, due to the complexities of surgical reconstruction and complications associated with poor healing. The need for an increased understanding of bone fracture properties and enhanced protective devices is substantial. Dr. Quenneville’s  work aims to incorporate undergraduate researchers into the field of injury biomechanics and provide them with the skills to move into automotive and health-related industries. 

This Award is unique because it:

  • recognizes the research achievements of an innovative scholar within the first eight years of his or her research career;
  • provides funding support to the scholar to enable the active participation of undergraduates in the research endeavour.

This Award provides a means for the University to encourage creative thinking about how undergraduate students might participate in university research, to learn how undergraduate education might benefit from research, and to provide, over time, several innovative working models of active student involvement in university research.The Award consists of:

  • campus-wide recognition for innovative research achievement by a new faculty member; and,
  • $25,000 support towards a project to actively involve undergraduate students in research.

Under normal circumstances, the project should be completed in the year following receipt of the Award. The Award is financed through a $250,000 endowment provided by Petro-Canada, and a matching annual contribution by McMaster University’s Office of the Vice-President Research.



All full-time McMaster faculty members are eligible for this Award, but only during the first eight years following the receipt of their PhD.

Nomination Procedure

The nomination process consists of two parts.  The first part occurs at the Department and Faculty level and evaluates the research accomplishments of the nominee.  The second part occurs at the institution level and evaluates the undergraduate project proposals.

Research Accomplishments

The first part is meant to qualify the applicant as an innovative researcher. The candidate should collaborate with his or her departmental Chair to assemble the case for excellence. The evidence submitted must include:


  • confirmation of completion date of PhD;
  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae; and,
  • a brief (two-page) letter from the Chair outlining the reasons for considering the candidate’s research work as exceptional.
    This might include such information as a description of the candidate’s research goals, research accomplishments to date, other honours or prizes, impact on the graduate program, impact on the work of colleagues, etc. If there is more than one potential nominee in a department, it is the Chair’s responsibility to put forth the single best candidate each year.

The resulting package is submitted to the Dean of the Faculty for review. The Dean of the Faculty, or designate, adjudicates the research achievements of the candidate, and in the case of multiple applications from within the Faculty, must select a single Faculty nominee.
All candidates identified in this manner are assumed to meet the innovative research requirements of this Award. As a group they make up the “short list” for Part 2 of the Award procedure.

Undergraduate Project Proposal

At the same time, and in the same package, each candidate will draft and submit a Project Proposal for engaging undergraduate students with their research. The Proposal should be no longer than five pages and should include a statement of goals and expected outcomes, a method or process, a budget, a time-line, a plan for evaluating the impact of the project on the undergraduate program, and a plan for sharing the results of the project with the McMaster community.
It is this Project Proposal that will be used to determine the winner from among those on the short list. The project proposals of those candidates on the short list will be reviewed by a qualified panel of academics. The panel will select the Award recipient by choosing the most innovative and promising project proposal.

For More Information


Alyson Brown

MacPherson Institute

Mills Library, Room 504

(905) 525-9140, ext. 20856.

Past Recipients

Past Recipients of the Petro-Canada Award

  • 2014 – Michael Schutz, School of the Arts
  • 2015 – Ayse Turak, Department of Engineering Physics
  • 2016 – Jennifer Heisz, Department of Kinesiology
  • 2017 – Kathryn Grandfield, Department of Materials Science and Engineering