Sponsored by the Canadian Council of University Chemistry Chairs (CCUCC)

The Clara Benson Award is presented to recognize a woman who has made a distinguished contribution to chemistry while working in Canada.

View the Terms of Reference and list of Past Winners

Joelle Pelletier

The 2021 winner of the Clara Benson Award is:

Joelle Pelletier, MCIC
Université de Montréal
Audrey Moores LinkedIn

Following a B.Sc. from Ottawa U. (1989), a Ph.D. from McGill U. (1995) and postdoctoral fellowships at U. de Montréal and at the U. of Zürich, Joelle Pelletier became a Professor of Chemistry and Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at U. de Montréal in 1999. Her transdisciplinary research has produced new enzymes for applications in health, materials science and industrial synthesis and has provided remarkable insights into the fundamentals of protein biology. Evolution of antibiotic resistance, generation of ‘smart’ protein libraries and protein dynamics are prominent among her research topics; a recent focus is serological testing for COVID-19.

Professor Pelletier has established advanced methods for automated and high-throughput protein engineering, applied biocatalysis and computational models, as reported in over 90 publications and 15 patents. She has served as co-director of PROTEO, the Québec Network for Protein Function, Engineering and Applications since 2009 and is director of the Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network. Highly solicited in the broader research community, she serves on numerous executive boards, grant and award panels and conference organization committees in Canada and internationally. Her advances in biosensing helped launch the start-up company Affinité Instruments where she serves as VP-Research.

Group website

Past Winners


Alison Thompson, MCIC

Dalhousie University
Society: CSC

Diane Beauchemin

Queen's University
Society: CSC

Brigitte Guérin

Université de Sherbrooke
Society: CSC

Ann English, FCIC

Concordia University
Society: CSC

Yunjie Xu

University of Alberta
Society: CSC

Laurel Schafer

University of British Columbia
Society: CSC

Hélène Lebel

Université de Montréal
Society: CSC

Jillian M. Buriak

University of Alberta
Society: CSC