UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 01 | Jan.
Oceanographer earns Japan Prize
Past recipients include five Nobel Prize winners
by Andy Poon staff writer
A UBC Oceanography professor emeritus has become the first Canadian
to win the Japan Prize -- Japan's equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
Timothy Parsons, whose career in oceanography spans more than four decades
including 21 years as a professor at UBC, was one of two laureates of
the 2001 Japan Prize announced recently in Tokyo.
The award recognizes Parsons' contributions to the development of fisheries
oceanography and for conservation of fisheries resources and the marine
"UBC is extremely proud and pleased to see Dr. Parsons receive such
prominent recognition," says UBC President Martha Piper. "He has made
enormous contributions to the field of fisheries oceanography, and his work has
signaled the beginning of a new interdisciplinary era in renewable resource
management and conservation. He is a truly worthy laureate of the Japan
Parsons joins an illustrious list of past recipients for the prize that
includes five Nobel Prize winners.
"The Japan Prize really has come from my background in working with so many
different people -- colleagues, researchers, staff and
students," says Parsons. "It is a result of their ideas as well."
Parsons was recognized for the award by UBC and Fisheries and Oceans
Canada at an event held in his honour at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced
Studies. Piper, Japan's Consul General Yuichi Kusumoto, Advanced Education,
Training and Technology Minister Cathy McGregor, and Fisheries and Oceans
Canada's regional director of Science, Laura Richards, were among
those on hand.
Parsons' career includes serving as a research scientist from 1958-71 at the
Fisheries Research Board of Canada in Nanaimo. From 1962-64, he served at the
Office of Oceanography, United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.
"Dr. Parsons' innovative work earned him a great deal of respect from peers
around the world and winning this prestigious award exemplifies his
distinguished and successful career," says Herb Dhaliwal, minister of Fisheries
Parsons has focused on developing a method of fisheries management based on the
dynamic relationships between marine life and their physical, chemical and
biological environments -- how they fit into the sea's food web.
His work has shown how accurate measure of environmental factors leads to a
better understanding of ecosystem structure and function. His efforts
have influenced a new school of holistic ocean scientists and managers.
Parsons joined UBC's oceanography department in 1971. He is also an
honorary scientist emeritus at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, a Fisheries and
Oceans Canada research facility in Sidney on Vancouver Island.
The Japan Prize, now in its 17th year, is given worldwide by the Science and
Technology Foundation of Japan.
It recognizes original and outstanding achievements in science and technology
that have advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and
prosperity for mankind.
Parsons will be presented with a medal, certificate of merit and a cash prize
of 50 million yen (approximately $685,000) at a ceremony in Tokyo in April. The
Japanese emperor and empress will be present at the event.