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$100,000 Killam prizes awarded for 2006


Ottawa, ON – Three science and engineering researchers are among five winners of 2006 Killam Prizes, each worth $100,000.

Dr Paul Corkum, with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), won in the natural sciences category. A leading expert on lasers and how they are used in science and technology, he holds a PhD in theoretical physics from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. In 1973, he joined the staff of NRC, where he concentrated first on laser technology and then on using intense laser pulses to study and control matter. He is best known for introducing many of the concepts needed to understand how intense laser light pulses interact with atoms and molecules and then confirming these concepts experimentally. His work has led to a method for producing the world’s shortest light pulses. He is currently the program leader of the atomic, molecular and optical science group at the NRC.

Dr Brett Finlay, with University of British Columbia, won in the health sciences category. He has made important contributions to the understanding of such bacteria as Salmonella and pathogenic E coli, which are major causes of food and water poisoning, as well as the deadly SARS virus. In 1997, Dr Finlay discovered how a particular strain of E coli binds to its host cell. He later developed a vaccine for cattle that is successfully destroying this strain of the bacterium, reducing the human toll of E coli outbreaks. When SARS spread to British Columbia in the spring of 2003, he was appointed as the scientific director of an international consortium of organizations and individuals working to fast track the development of a SARS vaccine. His efforts have enabled Canada to emerge as an international leader in SARS vaccine research. He is currently a professor in the University of British Columbia’s Michael Smith Laboratories, as well as in the departments of biochemistry and microbiology, and the UBC Peter Wall distinguished professor.

Dr Roderick Guthrie, an expert in process metallurgy at McGill University, won in the engineering category. A graduate of Imperial College in London (UK), he is director of the McGill Metals Processing Centre and is Macdonald professor of metallurgy. One of his main areas of research has been the mathematical and physical modelling of fluid flows. These flows are an integral part of many processing operations, including iron-making, steelmaking and casting. He holds some 200 patents based on 11 different inventions.

In addition, Dr Susan Sherwin, an expert in feminist bioethics at Dalhousie University, won in the humanities category, and Dr Jean-Marie Dufour, an economist with the Universit de Montral, won in the social sciences category.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Killam Prizes, which were financed through funds donated to the Canada Council by Dorothy J Killam in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. The prizes were created to honour eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research.

The Canada Council will present the prizes on April 27 in Halifax.