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Big Cash for Killam Prize Winners

Canada Council awards five prominent scholars $100,000 Killam Prizes

The 2011 Killam Prizes, Canada’s most distinguished annual awards, were handed out recently to five outstanding Canadians for their career achievements in health sciences, engineering, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Their work in the fields of computer science, genetics, Aboriginal languages, antenna research, or social psychology highlights Canadian success in global issues.

The Canada Council for the Arts, which administers the Killam Program, announced today the scholars are
Professor Gilles Brassard of Université de Montréal, Dr. Michael Hayden of University of British Columbia, Dr. Keren Rice of University of Toronto,
Dr. Lotfollah Shafai of University of Manitoba, and Professor Mark Zanna of University of Waterloo.

Download images of the winners.

Mr. Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, noted, “One of the most prestigious research awards in the world, the Killam Prizes recognize the incredible accomplishments of these five internationally renowned experts. They bring creativity and dedication to their fields of study, introducing innovations that ultimately have an impact on the lives of Canadians.”

“The Trustees of the Killam Trusts are delighted with the selection of these five eminent Killam Prize winners. In establishing the trusts, Dorothy J. Killam said her purpose was ‘to increase the scientific and scholastic attainments of Canadians,’ and ‘to develop and expand the work of Canadian universities,’” said Killam Trusts Managing Trustee George Cooper. “The announcement today of these world class scholars and researchers ensures that Mrs. Killam’s objective continues to be amply fulfilled.”

Full biographical details are available here.
Biographical notes
Gilles Brassard – Université de Montréal –
Natural Sciences

Professor Gilles Brassard is “one of Canada’s science superstars” according to British astronomer David Darling. When many quantum physicists were only beginning to formulate their theories,
Professor Brassard was already devising real world applications for his own quantum theories. Today, he is acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost computer scientists and best known pioneers in the field of quantum information science, in particular for his invention of quantum cryptography and teleportation.

In 1984, along with Charles H. Bennett, Professor Brassard developed the BB84 protocol, which is the most secure method of encrypting information for confidential transfer from one party to another. Their discovery was named one of the “10 emerging technologies that will change the world,” by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003.

More recently, he has been working on the theoretical and experimental investigation of the art of flipping coins by use of quantum-mechanical phenomena. He dreams of new foundations for quantum mechanics based on information-theoretic principles.
Michael Hayden – University of British Columbia – Health Sciences

Internationally known for his genetic research, Dr. Michael Hayden is best described as a humanitarian, one of those rare individuals whose life’s work has bridged theory and practice. He is known as someone not averse to risk-taking, particularly when confronted with patients who were once left to wonder whether they too might be afflicted with genetic diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Huntington and coronary artery disease.

Dr. Hayden’s scientific career began with investigations of Huntington disease and his discovery of neuroendocrine abnormalities. Ultimately, his research led to predictive testing for this devastating disease.

His later work has also contributed much to our understanding and gene identification of atherosclerosis, Huntington disease and inherited lipid disorders, in which harmful amounts of fatty materials called lipids accumulate in the body.
Keren Rice – University of Toronto – Humanities

Professor Keren Rice literally wrote the book on the Slavey (Dene) language, one of the official languages of Canada’s Northwest Territories. A Grammar of Slave, a detailed study of grammar of the Dene language was awarded the Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistic Society of America and is still used some 20 years after publication. Her work has been critical in documenting one of Canada’s living languages, an important element of our rich Aboriginal heritage.

Professor in Linguistics and founding Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives at the University of Toronto, she has dedicated the last 30 years to her study of the Dene language, and has been engaged in work to maintain and revitalize the language. She served on a committee that standardized the Dene writing system and has worked with a team to develop teaching materials for language teachers. In addition, she compiled a dictionary of one dialect of Dene.

Professor Rice has also conducted in-depth research that helps to unlock the highly sophisticated system of word formation in Dene and related languages.
Lotfollah Shafai – University of Manitoba – Engineering

Acknowledged as one of the world’s most innovative antenna researchers, Dr. Lotfollah Shafai’s ground‑breaking research has led to a range of developments that are already in wide use in the broadband wireless and satellite communication industries.

In recent years, Dr. Shafai’s work has focused on the electromagnetic mapping of Arctic sea ice. His research has provided critical data for understanding the effects of climate-warming trends and more accurate predictions of the seasonal behavior of Arctic ice.

Dr. Shafai is Canada’s leading expert in the field of applied electromagnetic and radiating systems. His early work led to the development of the first generation picoterminals for the Canadian Hermes satellite – ultra-small fully portable satellite ground stations with antennas now in use around the world.
Mark P. Zanna – University of Waterloo –
Social Sciences

Professor Mark P. Zanna is one of only a handful of academic social psychologists whose theories have been applied to major social issues such as racial prejudice. Described by his peers as one of the leading social psychologists in Canada, he is among the most cited social psychologists in the world.

Professor Zanna’s research is enabling Canadians to better respond to some of the most challenging social issues of our time. Through his collaborative work on the International Tobacco Control Policy Survey,
a population-based, national survey undertaken in 14 countries, he and his colleagues have made important contributions to the evaluation of national tobacco control policies. Continuing his health promotion efforts, Professor Zanna has evaluated Canada’s cigarette warning labels and has tested the subtle effects of movie stars’ smoking in films.

Professor Zanna has given research into social attitudes momentum and direction. He and his colleagues are credited with establishing one of the world’s top social psychology programs at the University of Waterloo.
General information

The Killam Prizes were inaugurated in 1981 with a donation by Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam in memory of her husband, Izaak Walton Killam. The Prizes were created to honour eminent Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research, whether in industry, government agencies or universities. The Killam Fund at the Canada Council was valued at approximately $57 million as of February 2011. The Killam Trusts, which fund scholarship and research at four Canadian universities (including University of British Columbia), a neurological research and clinical institute and the Canada Council, are valued at approximately $400 million.

In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts in Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards a number of distinguished prizes in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to raising public awareness and celebration of these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

For a list of the selection committee members, which included scholars, researchers and experts, please click here.
Find a complete listing of these awards.
Media contact:

Grace Thrasher
Manager, Public Relations Team
1-800-263-5588 or
613-566-4414, ext. 5145
email Email this contact

To set up interviews with the winners:

National Publicists
Delta Media
Sheena Pennie: 250-415-9703 (on-site April 19)
Alex Brazeau: 613-233-9191, ext. 230 or 888-473-3582

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