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Award Rules

Rules regarding the awarding of the biennial John Stewart Bell Prize for research on fundamental issues in quantum mechanics and their applications.


  1. The John Stewart Bell Prize for Research on Fundamental Issues in Quantum Mechanics and their Applications (hereafter "Bell Prize") will be awarded every other year, starting in 2009, for significant contributions first published in the 6 years preceding January 1st of the award year. The award is meant to recognize major advances relating to the foundations of quantum mechanics and to the applications of these principles – this covers, but is not limited to, quantum information theory, quantum computation, quantum foundations, quantum cryptography, and quantum control. The award is not intended as a "lifetime achievement" award, but rather to highlight the continuing rapid pace of research in these areas. It is intended to cover even-handedly theoretical and experimental research, both fundamental and applied.
  2. The award will be funded and managed by the University of Toronto Centre for Quantum Information & Quantum Control (hereafter "CQIQC"), but the award selection will be the responsibility of an arms-length selection committee. This committee will be composed of 5 members, including an ex officio vice-chair chosen from the CQIQC management committee, and 4 internationally respected scientists in the fields covered by the award (none of whom should be from the University of Toronto), one of whom will serve as committee chair. Members of the committee will be ineligible to receive the award while they are serving and in the subsequent award cycle, as will their close relatives. Regular collaborators of committee members over the preceding 6 years will similarly be excluded; the committee has the discretion to determine what constitutes "regular" collaboration.
  3. The awardee will be invited to deliver a prize lecture, open to the public, as part of the biennial CQIQC conference. All reasonable travel and accommodation expenses (as well as the conference registration) will be covered; in addition, the award will consist of a medal, a certificate, and a $1000 honorarium.
  4. Nominations are to be solicited from a broad group of researchers in the covered fields. Self-nomination is prohibited. It will be recommended that nominations include the name and affiliation of the nominee, a 1-2 paragraph statement of the importance of the contribution for which he or she is being nominated, and the principal literature citations to this work. The selection committee will, however, not be bound to limit itself to the names it receives from external nominations, nor will it be required to provide any explanation of why any given nominee was not selected. There are no other restrictions related to the age, nationality, or educational/employment history of the awardee, aside from the conflict-of-interest exclusions described in (2).
  5. The selection will typically take place by email and/or teleconference as follows:
    1. The vice-chair will solicit nominations internationally, with the assistance of the CQIQC management board and the CQIQC international advisory board, in the Fall of the year preceding the award year.
    2. The vice-chair will forward the nomination packages to the committee members, typically in November of the year preceding the award, and request that they reply with information about any additional nominees they believe should be considered.
    3. The vice-chair will send the expanded list of nominees to the committee by December, and invite the committee to make any comments or pursue any discussions about the nominees by email or teleconference, as appropriate.
    4. The members of the committee will then be asked to provide a numerical score for each nominee and send these scores to the committee chair. (The precise method of scoring – e.g., a ranked list, scores from 1 to 10, or others – will be at the discretion of the chair.)
    5. The chair will use these scores to select a proposed awardee. He/She will have the discretion to "process" the scores as he/she deems most reasonable (e.g., by taking the mean or the median, before or after discarding the highest and/or the lowest ranking, et cetera), and in cases where two awardees have very similar rankings, shall have the discretion to select the candidate he/she believes is most deserving. He/She shall share the full set of scores with the committee, along with his/her proposed awardee and his/her reasoning. Typically this will happen by the second week in January of the award year. The selection should be accepted, by a vote of at least 4 of the 5 committee members.
    6. If the selection is rejected, the chair should make an alternate suggestion and submit it to the committee for approval. This process may continue so long as the chair feels there are suitable candidates. If none of the chair's suggestions is approved by a 4/5 majority of the committee, then the award will not be offered in that year.
    7. Typically, the awardee will thus be determined by the end of January, and the CQIQC management board will be informed of the decision. They will have the responsibility to ensure that the rules concerning the award (specifically relating to conflict of interest) have been respected, and unless they find otherwise, the selection committee chair will be invited to inform the awardee of the decision by early February. The CQIQC management board will handle the subsequent practical arrangements along with the public announcement of the award.
  6. At the start of each award cycle, the CQIQC Management Committee will select one of its members to serve as ex officio vice chair of the selection committee. The four non-CQIQC members of the committee will typically serve 4-year terms (covering two award cycles). After the selection of the awardee, the selection committee will be invited to provide 4-5 names of potential replacements for the 2 members whose terms are ending. This list will be forwarded to the CQIQC management committee, which will select 2 names from the list. These proposed members will be invited to serve, subject to final approval by the International Advisory Board. If either or both of them decline, then the CQIQC Management Committee shall choose alternate members until it has found two who agree to serve. The names of these two shall be forwarded to the International Advisory Board, who will be given 2 weeks to raise any formal objection. If any member of the Board objects, the Management Committee has the option to immediately seek a new committee member or to request a full vote of the International Advisory Board to override the objection; in such cases, a simple majority of the Board members who respond within 2 weeks will decide the issue.
  7. In the first year of the award, the CQIQC Management Committee and the inaugural award committee chair shall agree on the composition of the selection committee, designating two of the members to serve for a single term and two to serve for two consecutive terms.
  8. In cases where a committee member steps down unexpectedly, the CQIQC Management Committee shall select a replacement subject to approval by the International Advisory Board, under the same guidelines as described above in (6).
  9. These rules will take effect after approval by the CQIQC Management Board and the International Advisory Committee. Any changes to these rules should be approved by a majority of the Management Committee (abstention counting as a negative vote) and by a majority of the responding members of the International Advisory Committee (who will be given two weeks to respond once an amendment has been passed by the Management Committee and forwarded to them; abstention in this case will count as an affirmative vote).
  10. These rules, along with the membership of the selection committee, the CQIQC management board, and the CQIQC international advisory committee, shall all be made public, but the names of the nominees, all information related to the nomination packages, and everything concerning the deliberations shall be strictly confidential.