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2011 Killam Research Fellowships are announced

Ottawa, ON – The winners of the 2011 Killam Research Fellowships, were announced this week by the Canada Council for the Arts. The council, which administers the fellowships, announced that a total of $1.12 million has been awarded for the eight projects, five of which are in the areas of chemistry or biology.

The fellowships provide $70,000 a year for two years to each of the researchers. They enable the researchers to be released from teaching and administrative duties so that they can pursue independent research.

The Killam Selection Committee included 14 eminent scientists and scholars representing a broad range of disciplines. The following individuals were selected from 74 applications:

Natural Sciences – Biochemistry:
Zongchao Jia, Queen’s University, Structural studies of a bifunctional kinase/phosphatase AceK and its applications in water-borne disease suppression and biotechnology. Dr Jia’s research will focus on the impact of a protein found within E. coli called AceK that could be targeted to inhibit bacterial growth in water and food sources. He will also examine the possibility of using AceK in the creation of biomolecules with reduced cost and CO2 emission. A well-published scientist, Dr Jia has been recognized through many awards and research grants and his work is often cited by other research groups. More information:

Natural Sciences – Evolutionary Biology:
Dolph Schluter, University of British Columbia, The genetics of adaptive radiation. The Canada Research Chair for evolution and ecology at UBC, Professor Schluter is renowned in the area of evolutionary biology. He will undertake research with three-spined stickleback fish in the B.C. coastal lakes in order to understand the genetic changes that occur during evolution. He will also use this species, considered an ideal model for this type of research, to test how evolution occurs from the ecological to the genetic level. This will build on his published work, The Ecology of Adaptive Radiation (2000). More information:

Natural Sciences – Chemistry:
Chris Orvig, University of British Columbia, Medicinal inorganic chemistry approaches to multifunctional prodrugs for neurodegenerative disease treatment. Professor Orvig’s work will focus on preclinical discovery and testing of novel compounds that will slow, halt or reverse the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2009 he won both the Rio Tinto Alcan Award from the Canadian Society of Chemistry and the Bioinorganic Chemistry Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry; he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2010. More information:

Natural Sciences – Chemistry:
Warren Piers, University of Calgary, Organometallic approaches to solar fuels. This research project will focus on the catalytic splitting of water into green fuels hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight as the energy source. A recipient of national and international awards in chemistry, he has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Chemical Institute of Canada. He currently holds the S. Robert Blair Chair in Chemistry. More information:

Natural Sciences – Chemical Biology:
Gerard Wright, McMaster University, Antibiotics and resistance, from understanding to solutions This research project includes two components: understanding antibiotic resistance and developing strategies to identify leads for new antibiotics from natural sources. Dr Wright will also work to establish CARD: a complete antibiotic resistance database for use by researchers, scientists and clinicians. Recognized as one of the top scientists in this field, Dr Wright, a full professor in biochemistry and biomedical sciences, is also the Director of the MG DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster.

Humanities – Fine Arts (Music Theory):
William Caplin, McGill University, Cadence, A study of closure in tonal music
Professor Caplin will pursue further study on cadence, a major device for creating musical closure, by grounding the concept in then exploring how cadence functions in a wider range of musical styles. He will also the roles of performer and listener in the projection and experience of cadence. The James McGill Professor of Music Theory, he is recognized as a leading scholar in the recent revival of theories of musical form.

Humanities – Philosophy:
Thomas Hurka, University of Toronto, British Moral Philosophers from Sidgwick to Ewing (1874-1959)
The focus of Professor Hurka’s research will be a group of British moral philosophers who shared common assumptions about the nature of morality and the proper methodology for theorizing about it. He will complete a book that examines their views on these topics and others such as duties concerning the self, the intrinsic goods and the nature of virtue. He has written five books, including Perfectionism; Virtue, Vice and Value; and The Best Things in Life.

Social Sciences – Historical Geography
W. George Lovell, Queen’s University, Enduring conquest: a cultural history of the Guatemalan Maya. The fellowship will give Professor Lovell time to synthesize four decades of research on how the Guatemalan Maya have survived cycles of conquest, allowing him to produce a book that documents remarkable cultural resilience and speaks to the strength of the human spirit. An internationally recognized scholar of Maya peoples in Guatemala, he is currently on sabbatical leave as visiting professor in Latin American history at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Spain.