Prof Howard Alper

Prof Howard Alper


University of Ottawa

Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences

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Work and Research

Howard Alper is currently spearheading the initiative by the former Governor General of Canada (Head of State) to enhance global recognition for Canadian research excellence. He is Chair of the Canvassing Committee for the initiative. He is also Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa. The basic research Alper has been pursuing spans organic and inorganic chemistry, with potential applications in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and commodity chemical industries. Alper developed novel routes using cyclocarbonylation and other transformations, leading to efficient syntheses of small, medium and large ring heterocycles [e.g. carbapenem antibiotics].

Fields Of Expertise

Biomolecular Sciences

More about my work

He created new highly chemoselective alkoxycarbonylation or aminocarbonylation processes of importance in drug and natural product synthesis [e.g. avenanthramide A]. Alper was the pioneer in the application of phase-transfer catalysis to transition-metal catalysed organic reactions.  He has published 552 papers, has thirty-seven patents, and has edited several books.

In 2000, the Governor General of Canada presented him with the inaugural Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal in Science and Engineering, the most prestigious award for science and engineering in the country.  The following year, he was given the National Merit Award for contributions to the Life Sciences. 

In 1999, Alper was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2002 he was awarded the title of Officer, National Order of Merit, by the President of the Republic of France. In 2014, President Napolitano of the Republic of Italy, bestowed the significant recognition of Alper as Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

In December 2006, he was elected Co-Chair of IAP: The Global Network of Science Academies, for a three-year term, and in January, 2010, was re-elected to a second three year term as Co-Chair. In 2010, he was also appointed to the U.S. National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering, to the Science Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum, to the Board of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences-Next Einstein Initiative, to the Advisory Board of the Global Young Academy, and as Vice-Chair of the RIKEN Advisory Council (Japan). In 2011, he was elected as Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Knowledge Economy Network headquartered in Brussels.  In 2015, he was appointed to the Board of the ambitious Smart Villages initiative, and he also serves on the Athena Forum in the U.K.

On June 13, 2007, he was appointed inaugural Chair of the Government of Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council(STIC) which provides advice to Cabinet and the Prime Minister on science, technology and innovation issues, and the Council also issues a State of the Nation reports every two years benchmarking Canada’s performance on a global basis.In December, 2012, the Government of Canada reappointed him to a third term as Chair of the STIC. He completed eight years as Chair of STIC by the end of his third term in May, 2015

He is passionate about Canada, research and chocolate.