Arts, Science scholars earn top research prizes

by Hilary Thomson

Staff writer

English Dept. head Prof. Sherrill Grace and Physics Prof. Janis McKenna have been awarded UBC's top research prizes for 1998.

Grace, who has written or edited more than 140 articles and reviews and published nine books, has won the Jacob Biely Faculty Research Prize in recognition of her distinguished record of published research.

McKenna has won the Charles A. McDowell Award for Excellence in Research. The award recognizes achievement in pure or applied scientific research.

McKenna studies the forces between quarks, the basic constituents of all matter, as specified in the standard model of particle physics.

Grace's focus is 20th-century Canadian literature and culture, comparative Canadian and American literature and interdisciplinary studies in literature, art, film, theatre and music of this century.

A recognized expert on the work of writer Malcolm Lowry, Grace recently edited Sursum Corda: The Collected Letters of Mal-colm Lowry. She has also edited a special edition of Lowry's short stories, written when the author was 17 years old. The book will be published in March.

Another work soon to be published is Staging the North, a collection of 12 Canadian plays co-edited with colleagues Eve D'Aeth, a professor at Yukon College in Whitehorse and Lisa Chalykoff, a UBC English Dept. graduate student.

Grace is also writing a cultural study, Canada and the Idea of North, which looks at the history, geography, politics, art and literature of Canada's North.

A past recipient of the F.E.L. Priestley Award, a national award for a scholarly essay or article, a UBC Killam Research Grant and a 1991 Killam Research Prize, Grace is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a senior fellow of Green College.

Working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, McKenna and colleagues have been conducting the highest precision tests ever made of the union of weak and electromagnetic forces. Weak forces, one of the fundamental physical interactions, are responsible for radioactive decay.

She is also searching for new fundamental particles or interactions that are not part of the standard model.

Another experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is aimed at building understanding of the asymmetry between matter and anti-matter.

Most Big Bang theories predict equal parts of matter and anti-matter in our universe yet there is no evidence of places in the universe consisting of anti-matter.

McKenna and colleagues are reconstructing tens of millions of sub-atomic particles in the experiment to try and gain insight into the asymmetry.

In 1993 McKenna won the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Women's Faculty Award.

The $5,000 UBC Killam Research Prizes have also been awarded. The prizes are equally divided between arts and sciences disciplines.

The recipients are: Laurel Brinton, English; Garry Clarke, Earth and Ocean Sciences; Pamela Dalziel, English; Sian Echard, English; John Gosline, Zoology; Charles Haynes, Biotechnology Laboratory and Chemical Engineering; Ralph Sarkonak, French; John Scheffer, Chemistry; Jack Snoeyink, Computer Science; and Peter Ward, History.

Also announced were the recipients of the Isaac Walton Killam Memorial Fellowships. The fellowships top up faculty salaries by up to $15,000 during sabbatical leaves. Scholars also receive a $3,000 grant for research and travel expenses.

Recipients are: Joan Anderson, Nursing; Bruce Buffett, Earth and Ocean Sciences; David Green, Economics; Samir Kallel, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lawrence McIntosh, Chemistry; and Jerry Schmidt, Asian Studies.