UBC botanist, chemist, zoologist newest Royal Society members

Three UBC researchers will receive one of the highest honours in the Canadian academic community when they are inducted into the Royal Society of Canada next month during a ceremony in Ottawa.

The UBC inductees to the society's Academy of Science are Prof. Thomas Cavalier-Smith, Prof. Michael Fryzuk and Prof. John Gosline.

Each year the society elects more than 60 "fellows" who are nominated for stellar research in the fields of science, social sciences and the humanities and for other contributions to the academic community.

In the field of science, where this year's UBC inductees reside, the society received 10 times as many nominations as available slots.

UBC is ranked second among Canadian universities, after the University of Toronto, in current number of fellows in the Royal Society with 132.

Botanist Cavalier-Smith, a world leader in studying cell evolution, has greatly reformed the classification of single-celled creatures such as Protozoa and established a sixth kingdom of life, the Chromista, which includes the kelps and other brown seaweeds. He has also proposed novel theories to explain why the cell nucleus of animals and plants contains so much more DNA than is needed for their genes, why so many of our genes have been invaded by virus-like pieces of DNA of no benefit to them, and how many different parts of living cells originated.

Fryzuk, a professor in the Dept. of Chemistry, is recognized for his contributions in several areas of inorganic/organometallic chemistry. His findings of unusual bonding combinations between certain atoms and metals are forcing the chemical community to reformulate ideas about bonding patterns.

Gosline, a professor in the Dept. of Zoology, is a leader in the field of molecular biomechanics. Although his special interests are focused on mechanical and molecular design principles of structural biomaterials (from spider silk to elastin to keratins and cuticles), he has had a broad impact on the entire discipline. His book, Mechanical Design in Organisms, which looks at the strategy of applying engineering principles to design in biological systems has had a profound effect on the field.

The mandate of the Royal Society of Canada is the promotion and development of learning and research in the arts and sciences.