Suzanne Fortier

Suzanne Fortier OC FRSC (born November 11, 1949)[1] is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University.

Suzanne Fortier

Dr. Suzanne Fortier.png
Fortier in May 2012
Born (1949-11-11) November 11, 1949 (age 71)
Alma materMcGill University

Early life and educationEdit

Fortier was born in Saint-Timothée, Quebec, a town on Île-de-Salaberry in the St. Lawrence River. Her parents ran a small local hotel. She grew up speaking only French and attended a small local convent, which served as elementary school.[2] A nun who taught chemistry and was enthusiastic about the subject inspired her to pursue science.[3]

She was among the first group of girls admitted to the local CEGEP, where she and a friend decided to enter the 1968 Quebec provincial science fair.[4] Their project on the diffraction of sound waves interested a crystallographer from McGill University who was attending the science fair, and who invited Fortier and her friend to visit his lab. This visit further confirmed her interest in science generally and crystallography in particular, a field of study that she has said "present[s] you with beautiful puzzles to solve. There are incredible pictures that you get of the structure of matter."[4]

Fortier entered McGill University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1972. She won an NRC Canada Post Graduate Scholarship and entered directly into a PhD program in crystallography. Her supervisor was Gabrielle Donnay.

During her PhD work, she attended a talk by U.S. mathematician Herbert Hauptman, who would later win the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and who studied directed methods for determining crystal structures. After being awarded her PhD in 1976, Fortier worked on biophysics for six years at the Medical Foundation of Buffalo, Inc., a private institute where Hauptman was research director (now the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute).

Academic careerEdit

In 1982, she joined the Department of Chemistry of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario as an Assistant Professor. She was the first woman to be hired by the department.[citation needed] She was interested in using artificial intelligence and other mathematical and machine learning techniques to determine the structure of proteins. In 1993, she was cross-appointed to the Department of Computer Science. She later served as Queen's Vice-Principal for Research from 1995 to 2000, and then as Vice-Principal for Academics from 2000 to 2005.[citation needed]

She took a leave from Queen's to become the President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), a Canadian government division that provides grants for research in the natural sciences and in engineering. She served as head of NSERC from January 16, 2006[5] until March 4, 2013.[6]

In September 2013, Fortier was appointed the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University.

Fortier's current salary at McGill is $390,000 with a discretionary bonus of up to twenty percent. Her contract was made public in 2013 by the university.

She was a member of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which advised the Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau on economic policies to achieve long-term sustainable growth. The Council called for a gradual increase in permanent immigration to Canada to 450,000 people a year.[7][8]


Fortier was awarded a total of three honorary doctorates from Thompson Rivers University, Carleton University, and the University of Glasgow.[9] In 1997, she received the Clara Benson Award for distinguished contributions to chemistry by a woman. Fortier was also honored with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.


  1. ^ "McGill principal and vice-chancellor completes full circle". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  2. ^ "Ardent administrator: how Suzanne Fortier's unmistakable enthusiasm for Canadian science began with a passion for solving the "beautiful puzzles" of the structure of matter. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  3. ^ Hoag, Hannah (8 March 2006). "Suzanne Fortier, president, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada". Nature. 440 (7081): 252. doi:10.1038/nj7081-252a. ISSN 1476-4687. S2CID 155850217.
  4. ^ a b Calamai, Peter (May 2011). "Ardent administrator: how Suzanne Fortier's unmistakable enthusiasm for Canadian science began with a passion for solving the "beautiful puzzles" of the structure of matter". Canadian Chemical News. 63 (5).
  5. ^ "Biography: Dr. Suzanne Fortier (Wayback machine cache)". Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 2009-06-10. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2010.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ Suzanne, Fortier (2013-03-05). "Statement from Dr. Suzanne Fortier". Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Fortier, Ragan part of Advisory Council on Economic Growth". McGill Reporter. May 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Influential Liberal advisers want Canadian population to triple by 2100". Global News. October 23, 2016.
  9. ^ "Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Biography". McGill University. Retrieved 2019-01-21.

External linksEdit