Physicist among four to take top fellowship

UBC physicist Douglas Bonn has been awarded a $180,000 1999 NSERC Steacie Fellowship for earning international recognition in his field. Also among the four Canadians who will receive the award is Norman Beaulieu, a UBC graduate and professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University.

The announcement of the winners of the fellowships, considered to be one of the most important research prizes in Canada, was made in Ottawa today.

Among the four winners of 1999 Doctoral Prizes is Troy Day, an NSERC post-doctoral fellow in Zoology at UBC.

Bonn, an associate professor in the Superconductivity Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, has had a major impact internationally on understanding high temperature superconductivity. It is one of one of the most competitive quests in science in the past decade, an endeavour considered crucial to the development of future applications of these exotic metals and crystals.

"I am an all-Canadian product who grew up in Ontario and did my post-doctoral work at UBC," said Bonn. "So it is possible to get a great education to the point of doing international scale research without necessarily trekking south of the border."

His success in studying how electrons respond to microwave and infrared radiation has earned him recognition as one of the world's top superconductor experimentalists.

In 1993, with colleague Walter Hardy, Bonn was the first to report accurate measurement of the depth that microwaves penetrate a superconducting crystal, a discovery that completely altered the then prevalent view on the nature of high temperature superconductivity. In 1997, the Canadian Association of Physicists awarded him with the Herzberg Medal for outstanding achievement by a physicist under 40 years of age.

Beaulieu, who earned a PhD in UBC's Dept. of Electrical Engineering in 1986, is a world authority in wireless communication theory. He has discovered ingenious mathematical approaches to predict in advance how well new wireless and digital communications systems will perform, which is of keen interest to those who design cell phone networks.

He was appointed to a full professorship at Queen's less than seven years after earning a PhD in electrical engineering at UBC. In January he was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the largest professional organization in the world.

Day, who earned his $5,000 prize and silver medal at Queen's, is using mathematical models to gain new perspectives on important issues in evolutionary biology at UBC.

This year marks the 35th year that the awards have been made, with the honors now topping 100 and including many of the country's most distinguished researchers.