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BC researchers win science council accolades


Burnaby, BC November 7, 2003 Winners of the Innovation and Science Council of British Columbia 2003 awards for excellence in science and technology received their awards at a gala dinner earlier this week.

The council a crown agency dedicated to promoting economic development and technology transfer in the province presents awards in six categories each year to honour outstanding achievements by the province’s scientists, engineers, industrial innovators and science communicators. The winners this year are as follows:

1) Cecil Green Award for Technology Entrepreneurship: For an individual or small team who has started or developed a knowledge-based company in BC that has demonstrated an ability to profitably create and sell world-class products over a sustained period of time. The award is named in honour of former BC resident Sir Cecil Green, one of the founders of Texas Instruments.

Dr Norman Toms is this year’s winner. Dr Toms helped establish BC as a global leader in wireless communications. His early recognition of a market need for wireless products, combined with his entrepreneurial acumen and management skills, has guided Sierra Wireless through ten years of growth, to the point where it now has products available in 25 countries on 45 wireless networks and reported over US $75 million in revenues

2) Chairman’s Award for Career Achievement: This award recognizes individuals who have made important contributions to British Columbia science and technology throughout their careers

This year’s winner, Dr John Grace, has distinguished himself as an educator, researcher, and innovator in his 35-year career as a leading authority on fluidization and chemical reaction engineering. His exploration of new clean energy technologies which use fluidized beds has resulted in major advances in the reduction of harmful emissions and in the efficient utilization of energy. Dr Grace has also formed many industry/academic/private sector partnerships, published widely, secured several patents and mentored more than 60 graduate students.

3) Eve Savory Award for Science Communication: A native of Duncan, British Columbia, Eve Savory reports frequently on science for CBC TV News. This award recognizes an exceptional achievement in explaining or organizing activities that explain science to the public.

Mr Bruce Mohun’s documentaries, series, and short films bring science into the homes of Canadians and expose them to subjects ranging from ethnobotany to nanotechnology.

4) Solutions Through Research Award: For individuals whose applied scientific and technical research has played an integral role in improving an adverse situation or resolving a specific problem, in any British Columbia industry or organization.

Dr Nemkumar Banthia, this year’s winner, is making roads safer, buildings stronger, and bridges last longer. Among his many discoveries is sprayed fibre reinforced polymers, a cost-effective cement/polymer solution that can be sprayed onto a concrete structure in order to double its load-carrying capacity and triple its resistance to earthquakes. Dr Banthia’s research into advanced structural materials has excited the construction engineering community and given Canada a huge competitive edge in a high demand global market valued at over $900 billion.

5) Young Innovator Award: Recognizes an individual under the age of 40 who has had a significant impact on BC science and technology either in a business, academic or collaborative environment.

This year’s recipient, Dr Fiona Brinkman, combines information technology, data mining, and the Internet in the fight against infectious diseases. She is at the forefront of Pathogen Bioinformatics, an emerging area of research that gives scientists new software tools to sift through massive amounts of data and identify new genetic targets for antibiotics or vaccines. Her Internet-based applications also enable scientists to pool their knowledge and launch a combined, worldwide effort to eradicate a variety of infectious diseases.

6) BC S&T Champion of the Year Award: For an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to promoting or fostering British Columbia science and technology, such as having a major role in a project or campaign.

This year’s winner, Dr Roger Foxall, is building the foundation for a vibrant, genomics-driven life sciences community in BC. Genome BC, the organization he co-founded, has already established partnerships between universities, research centres, governments, and the private sector, which is leading to discoveries in early-stage cancer, forestry, and salmon genomics. He was also instrumental in securing over $100 million in research funding which will create new social and economic opportunities for BC’s health sector and traditional resource industries.