York chemistry professor receives Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award

Chris Caputo

Chemistry Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair Chris Caputo in the Faculty of Science has received the 2019 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award. The award is presented to outstanding early-career faculty members at York University and is a commitment by Petro-Canada (now Suncor Energy Inc.) and the University to encourage excellence in teaching and research that will enrich the learning environment and contribute to society.

Chris Caputo. Photograph by B.D. Colen, Faculty of Science communicator in residence

“Congratulations to Chris. In his short time at York, he has established an excellent, well-funded research program that has the potential to advance fundamental chemistry and lead to new practical applications,” said Faculty of Science Dean Esaias Janse van Rensburg.

Caputo’s research program focuses on developing greener and more sustainable chemistry. His primary research focus is to develop new, low-cost catalytic materials derived from readily available main-group elements. Main group elements are more abundant, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than precious metals, which are still used in many industrial processes.

Caputo has an outstanding academic and research record, which includes many high-profile publications, with more than 1,000 citations and several prestigious honours and awards, such as a Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC) postdoctoral fellowship and the 2018 John Charles Polanyi Prize. In addition, he has had multiple collaborations with industry already; for instance, he recently received a $450,000 NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grant with Toronto startup Inkbox to study molecules to improve semi-permanent tattoo technology.

The Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award comes with a $7,500 grant, which Caputo will use to purchase electrochemical instrumentation and specialty reagents to advance research in his lab.