Barbara Sherwood Lollar, an earth sciences professor at the University of Toronto, has won the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for her work on ancient Earth water and for advancing the search for life on other worlds. Sherwood Lollar has been studying ancient water below the Earth's surface in mines on the Canadian Shield and around the world. She is only the second woman to win the award in its 28-year history.
Her stretch at Cambridge University drove her fascination with underground water. She then began to probe the complex story of water found in unexpected places, particularly in deep mines around the world.
“When I look back now, I realize that the moments I get most excited about our science results are those moments when it feels like we’re found a secret, something no one has seen before,” The Globe and Mail quoted her as saying.
Jennifer McKelvie, a Toronto city councillor who earned her PhD in Dr. Sherwood Lollar’s lab, said her former supervisor was an ideal mentor who remains deeply committed to her students’ success.
“What I learned from her is the ability to form partnerships, to bring people together that might not otherwise work together,” she said.
In 2016, she was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada "for her revolutionary contributions to geochemistry, notably in the development of innovative mechanisms for groundwater remediation, and for her discovery of ancient fluids that hold implications for life on other planets". Also in 2016, she was awarded the Bancroft Award by the Royal Society of Canada. She received the Logan Medal in 2018.