Killam Prizes worth $100K for each of five profs

Killam%20winners2009-384X88.jpgKillam winners, left to right, Philippe Gros, Wagdi G. Habashi, François Ricard, John P. Smol, and Ernest J. Weinrib
(photo: Canada Council for the Arts)

The 2009 Killam Prizes have been announced and five academics, including two from the Ontario tech corridor, are each $100K better off. The Canada Council for the Arts, which administers the Killam program, has announced the winners: Dr. Philippe Gros, Dr. Wagdi G. Habashi, and Dr. François Ricard, all of McGill; Dr. John P. Smol of Queen’s; and U of T’s Professor Ernest J. Weinrib. The Governor General will host a ceremony for the prize winners at Rideau Hall in early fall.
Killam Prizes were inaugurated in 1981 to honour eminent Canadian researchers in industry, government or universities. Joseph Rotman, chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, notes, “this year’s winners epitomize the broad spectrum of arts and scholarly research. Their accomplishments are remarkable in their diversity and their impact on Canadians.”
A decade before the human genome project was formulated, Philippe Gros was inventing and implementing strategies for genomic analysis in mice, looking to identify the key genes affecting health. His discoveries have advanced knowledge in three key biomedical areas: molecular biology of multidrug resistance; genetic analysis of neurodevelopmental defects (e.g., spina bifida and anencephaly); and host genetics of infectious diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, malaria, and salmonella).
At the interface of academia and industry and the juncture of applied mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering, Wagdi Habashi devotes his career to tackling major computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation problems. CFD looks to solve the complex equations that govern the flow physics of gases and fluids and Dr. Habashi’s novel approaches have been applied worldwide. His defining work in jet engine design has permitted accurate predictions of performance, reducing the need for building prototypes and testing.
François Ricard’s rich, cross-disciplinary writings on Quebec literature and society have propelled his reputation. His depictions of the modern Quebec experience in such critically lauded texts as Histoire du Québec contemporain (1986) and La génération lyrique (1992, a literary and sociological synthesis of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution), stamp him as a major interpreter of the Quebec community.
One of the world’s elite environmental scientists and an international authority on Arctic freshwater conditions and environmental change, John Smol has made significant contributions to the world’s understanding of global environmental issues. His groundbreaking research on lake acidification and other forms of pollution, land use changes, and climate change (e.g., the disappearance of entire ecosystems in the High Arctic linked to recent warming) has permanently altered views regarding the extent to which human activities affect the natural environment, and prompted key public policy and program development worldwide.
Ernest Weinrib is Canada’s pre-eminent legal theorist. His work addresses fundamental questions about the relationship between law, freedom, and rationality, and presents new insights into the nature of legal coherence, the limits of judicial competence, the autonomy of legal reasoning, and the relation of legal doctrine to legal theory.
The Killam Fund, donated by Dorothy J. Killam in memory of her husband was worth nearly $65 million at March 31, 2008. Izaak Killam, an industrialist and associate of Lord Beaverbrook, was considered the wealthiest person in Canada when he died in 1955. The Killam Trusts fund scholarship and research at four Canadian universities, a research institute and the Canada Council. They are valued at approximately $400 million.

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