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Leading scientists win Royal Society awards for 2015


Ottawa, ON – The Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science has announced the recipients of its 2015 medals and awards, who are being recognized for their outstanding achievements in research and scholarship. The winners were recently announced – they will be presented with their awards on Friday, November 27, 2015 at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria.

“The 2015 group of RSC award winners…is a testament to the multidisciplinary strength of Canadian talent,” said Graham Bell, president of the Royal Society of Canada. “These prestigious awards within the Canadian scholarly community serve as a reminder that the Royal Society of Canada recognizes and celebrates research, scholarship and the arts in all their variety of expression.”

The award winners are as follows:

The Alice Wilson Award was won by Kelsie Thu, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Dr. Thu is a postdoctoral fellow at the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre under the supervision of Dr. Tak Mak. She is interested in studying tumour biology to identify cancer cell vulnerabilities that may represent therapeutic targets. She is currently working on elucidating genetic mechanisms of tumour resistance to new anti-cancer drugs in order to improve tumour response and patient outcome.

The Henry Marshall Tory Medal was won by Julio Navarro, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Victoria. Dr. Navarro is a world-leading astrophysicist known for his contributions to our understanding of how galaxies form and evolve. His seminal work on dark matter—the mysterious substance that holds galaxies together—has been highly influential in the crafting of our current paradigm for structure formation in the universe. He is one of the most cited astrophysicists in Canada, and has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2011.

The McLaughlin Medal was won by Julio Montaner, Department of Medicine, the University of British Columbia. Dr. Montaner is a professor of medicine and head of the division of AIDS at UBC, and director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare. The architect of the UN 90-90-90 strategy aimed at ending the AIDS pandemic by 2030, he is a determined and passionate visionary whose life’s work has directly contributed to the increased survival and dignity of people living with HIV in Canada and the world.

The McNeil Medal was won by John Smol, Department of Biology, Queen’s University. Dr. Smol, the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, is an internationally acclaimed scientist, lecturer, author, and editor who has continually made important contributions to identifying changes in the world’s environment due to human and natural causes. A frequent commentator on scientific studies for radio, television, and the print media, his dedication to widely communicating scientific findings has led to enhanced public understanding of environmental issues and the benefits of research.

The Miroslaw Romanowski Medal was won by R. Kerry Rowe, Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University. A pioneer in the field of geoenvironmental engineering, Professor Rowe has combined theory, careful laboratory experiments, and field verification to make major contributions to the resolution of scientific aspects of, and the identification of engineered solutions to, environmental problems. His work has resulted in several books, numerous award winning papers, has influenced environmental regulations, and found application in many counties and from the Arctic to Antarctica.

The Rutherford Memorial Medal in Chemistry was won by Robert Campbell, Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta. Dr. Campbell is an international authority on the development and application of fluorescent proteins for live cell imaging. He has developed many innovative biochemical imaging tools that have been enthusiastically embraced by hundreds of cell biology and neuroscience research groups from around the world. These tools have advanced our understanding of intracellular signaling dynamics and are now enabling the visualization of neural activity in model organisms.

The Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics was won by Aashish Clerk, Department of Physics, McGill University. Professor Clerk is a leading theoretical physicist working at the boundary of quantum optics and condensed matter physics. His research on quantum optomechanical systems has led to new ways of thinking about measurement, control and dissipation in these systems, and has influenced countless experiments. Prof. Clerk has also made important original contributions to the study of quantum noise and measurement effects in superconducting circuits and more general quantum electronic systems.

In addition to the Academy of Science winners, the Royal Society also awards prizes in arts and humanities, social sciences, as well as the Royal Society of Canada Medal.