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Award-winning research recognized

Herzberg Gold Medal, Brockhouse Prize, Steacies and Killam fellows named

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | MAR 23 2009

University of Ottawa physicist Paul Corkum won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering in mid-March for his pioneering work using ultra-fast laser pulses to capture images of electrons moving around atoms. This evolving area of research, dubbed “attosecond science,” is also expected yield the first images of chemical reactions as they unfold.

Dr. Corkum spent nearly 25 years at the National Research Council of Canada, but recently joined U of O to open a new lab. The Herzberg medal, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, guarantees that he receives $1 million in research funding over the next five years.

The two runners-up for the Herzberg Gold Medal were Gilles Brassard of Université de Montréal and Brenda Milner of McGill University. Both will receive a $50,000 research grant.

The Herzberg medal is one of several major research honours recently handed out. Another NSERC award, the 2008 Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering, was given at the end of February to University of Manitoba biosystems engineer Digvir S. Jayas and entomologist Noel White with the Cereal Research Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The prize includes $250,000 in funding for future research activities.

Using engineering, biology and mathematics, the two researchers have spent more than two decades studying the causes of grain spoilage, from excess heat and moisture in storage bins, to damage caused by insects, fungi and bacteria. In Canada, such losses account for just one per cent of the total annual crop, but in some developing countries losses are as high as 50 per cent.

This year’s six Steacie Memorial Fellowships also were named. The prestigious two-year fellowships are awarded annually by NSERC to outstanding scientists and engineers early in their careers. For each fellowship, the host university receives $90,000 per year to fund a replacement for that researcher. This relieves the winners of their teaching and administrative duties, enabling them to focus on their research programs.

The Steacie fellows are: Brendan J. Frey, University of Toronto; Andrew Hendry, McGill University; Ray Jayawardhana, University of Toronto; Ingrid Johnsrude, Queen’s University; Karim Nader, McGill University; and Peter Tieleman, University of Calgary.

Likewise, the nine new recipients of Killam Research Fellowships for 2009 are freed up from other duties to devote two years to full-time research. Similar to the Steacies, the Killam fellowships have a value of $70,000 a year paid to the institution at which the fellow resides.

Administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Killam awards support scholars engaged in research in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering or interdisciplinary studies within these fields.

The Killam fellows are: Walter Herzog, University of Calgary; Natalie Strynadka, University of British Columbia; Douglas Stephan, University of Toronto; David Thomson, Queen’s University; Elizabeth Sauer, Brock University; Sherry Simon, Concordia University; James Grier, University of Western OntarioWalter Craig, McMaster University; and Robert Brandenberger, McGill University.

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