Ecologist, rock physicist, garner research prizes

A leading researcher on small mammals and a rock physicist are winners of UBC's top research prizes for 1996.

Ecologist Charles Krebs, a professor in the Dept. of Zoology, is the recipient of the Jacob Biely Research Prize and Assoc. Prof. Rosemary Knight, with the Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences, has won the Charles A. McDowell Award for Excellence in Research. Knight is also among 10 recipients of UBC Killam Research Prizes.

Krebs has worked for 30 years in B.C. and the Canadian North studying the curious phenomenon of population cycles in, among other animals, lemmings and snowshoe hares.

It has been Krebs' belief that an understanding of what underlies the dramatic population cycles of the North will yield clues to more complex systems in other parts of the world. He is currently writing up results from an intensive 10-year study of snowshoe hares in the Yukon (see story).

In terms of advancing international science and education, Krebs has been at the front of the debate on how behavioural, physiological and genetic attributes of animals affect populations and eventually determine the size of the population. The $1,500 Biely prize is awarded annually for outstanding research in any field of study.

Knight's research in rock physics is aimed at gaining an understanding of the properties of rocks and fluids in the subsurface of the earth and the interactions between them. Apart from her innovative theoretical and laboratory studies, Knight is recognized for investigating the use of field techniques such as ground-penetrating radar to look at groundwater flow and contaminants in the near surface.

Knight was named the Canadian Geophysical Union's Distinguished Lecturer for 1995 and is a consulting professor of geophysics at Stanford University. The McDowell award is given each year to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in the pure or applied sciences.

The university has also announced recipients of the Killam Research Prizes and another 13 faculty members who have won Killam fellowships.

The $10,000 UBC Killam Prizes are awarded annually to top campus researchers. The prizes, established in 1986, are equally divided between the arts and sciences.

Recipients for 1996 are: Anthony Barrett, Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies; Jess Brewer, Physics and Astronomy; Melvin Comisarow, Chemistry; Michael Devereux, Economics; David Dolphin, Chemistry; George Hoberg, Political Science; Terry McGee, Geography; William Rees, Community and Regional Planning; and Stephen Withers, Chemistry.

Isaac Walton Killam Memorial Faculty Research Fellowships top up faculty salaries while they are on sabbatical leave by up to $15,000. Scholars also receive a $3,000 grant for research and travel expenses.

Fellowship winners for 1996 are: Craig Boutilier, Computer Science; Gillian Creese, Anthropology and Sociology; Michael Devereux, Economics; David Edgington, Geography; Peter Englezos, Chemical Engineering; S.G. Hatzikiriakos, Chemical Engineering; Peter Seixas, Curriculum Studies; Jack Snoeyink, Computer Science; and Kay Teschke, Health Care and Epidemiology.