Trade, computer experts take top research prizes

James Brander, a professor in the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration, and Computer Science Assoc. Prof. Jack Snoeyink have been awarded UBC's top research prizes for 1997.

Brander, whose recent research has focused on the role of international trade policy as it affects natural resources, has won the Prof. Jacob Biely Faculty Research Prize.

His research has also explored entrepreneurship, business entry and venture capital. A past recipient of the UBC Killam Prize and the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration Research Prize, Brander and faculty colleague Prof. Barbara Spencer are regarded as pioneers in the research area of strategic trade policy.

Brander is managing editor of the Canadian Journal of Economics and a research associate of the U.S.-based National Bureau of Economic Research.

Long regarded as UBC's premier award, the Biely prize is given for a distinguished record of recently accomplished published research.

The Charles A. McDowell Award for Excellence in Research, won by Snoeyink, is presented for demonstrated excellence in pure or applied scientific research.

Snoeyink's primary research area is computational geometry, which involves the study of the design and analysis of algorithms for geometric computation.

Computational geometry is a branch of the theory of computer science that seeks efficient algorithms (computer programs) for problems best stated in geometric form.

It finds application in problems from solid modelling, computer graphics, data structuring, and robotics as well as mathematical questions of combinatorial geometry and topology -- the study of geometrical properties and spatial relations unaffected by the continuous change of shape or size of figures.

The most visible result of Snoeyink's research -- an aluminum sculpture made from 30, two-metre-long aluminum tubes -- hangs above the lobby in UBC's Centre for Integrated Computer Systems Research. It illustrates the difficulty of assembling simple geometric objects if you only have two hands (or, in the case of a robot, two manipulators) but work in a normal, three-dimensional space.

His current focus is on applications of computational geometry in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The university has also announced recipients of the Killam Research Prizes and another 13 faculty members who have won 1998-99 Killam Fellowships.

The $5,000 UBC Killam Research Prizes are awarded annually to top campus researchers. The prizes, established in 1986, are equally divided between the arts and sciences.

Recipients are: Izak Benbasat, Commerce and Business Administration; Steve Calvert, Earth and Ocean Sciences; Ron Clowes, Earth and Ocean Sciences; Ken Lum, Fine Arts; Lawrence McIntosh, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Peter Quartermain, English; Arthur Ray, History; Cornelis Van Breemen, Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Rabab Ward, Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Mark Zacher, Political Science.

Isaac Walton Killam Memorial 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 1998-99 are: Jutta Brunnee, Law; Brian Copeland, Economics; Sheldon Duff, Chemical and Bio-Resource Engineering; Mike Jackson, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Fiona Kay, Anthropology and Sociology; Anna Kindler, Curriculum Studies; Joshua Mostow, Asian Studies; Wesley Pue, Law; John Ries, Commerce and Business Administration; Neil Reiner, Medicine; and Bhagavatula S.R. Sastry, Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Rose Marie San Juan, Fine Arts, and J. Paul Russell, Philosophy, will also receive fellowships if sufficient funding is available.