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McGill physicist and jurist awarded Royal Society of Canada medals


Macdonald and Kaspi recognized for outstanding contributions to Canadian research and scholarship
Two McGill University professors are among the 12 Canadians recognized by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) with major medals and awards for their extraordinary achievement in the social sciences, humanities and sciences. Dr. Victoria Kaspi of the Faculty of Science has been awarded the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics, and Professor Roderick Macdonald of the Faculty of Law has been recognized with the Sir John William Dawson Medal for his contribution to interdisciplinary research.

Professor Kaspi, McGill’s Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics, is an exceptional physicist who is internationally renowned for her cutting-edge work on neutron stars, pulsars and supernovae remnants. In 2005, Prof. Kaspi and her team discovered the fastest-rotating pulsar known to science and more than 20 pulsars in a single star cluster in the Milky Way – both findings yielding important new information about the nature of one of the most mysterious forms of matter in the universe.

The Rutherford Memorial Medal, established in memory of the great scientist and leader in nuclear research, Lord Rutherford of Nelson, is awarded for outstanding research in any branch of physics and chemistry. “I’m truly honoured to be awarded this medal from the Royal Society,” said Prof. Kaspi. “It’s particularly meaningful for me, being here at McGill, where Lord Rutherford himself did so much of his groundbreaking physics research.”

This medal represents only the most recent of Prof. Kaspi’s many accomplishments. She was awarded the Canadian Association of Physicists Herzberg Medal, received the prestigious NSERC Steacie Prize, is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and is a winner of the CIAR Young Explorer Prize.

Professor Roderick Macdonald, the F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill, is a prodigious scholar, widely considered to be among Canada’s most influential public intellectuals and theorists. He was one of the first to lead legal scholars into interdisciplinary pursuits, exploring dimensions in law through the intellectual contributions of varied disciplines such as philosophy, anthropology, literary theory, semiotics and history. Prof. Macdonald’s contribution to an extensive and eclectic range of social and legal issues through radical inquiry into the relationship between law and society has placed him in the very first rank of academics internationally.

“If it weren’t for the fabulous students and colleagues I have had at McGill these past three decades, I never would have had courage to undertake these inquiries. The Dawson Medal is as much theirs as mine,” Prof. Macdonald said of his award.

Highly respected as an engaging professor of law, he also served as Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Law between 1984 and 1989. He is the founding president of the Law Commission of Canada (1997-2000), is a member of the Royal Society of Canada, and was the first Law Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. As a prolific author and esteemed legal consultant, his opinions have helped guide Canada’s national debates on issues ranging from constitutional debates to institutional child abuse to legal reform.

The Sir John William Dawson Medal, created to honour the man who was the RSC’s first president (1882-1883) and who was the foremost Canadian promoter of learning in his day, is awarded biannually to a scholar who makes important and sustained contributions to interdisciplinary research. Sir John William Dawson served as McGill’s Principal from 1855 to 1893.

Founded in 1882, the RSC is Canada’s oldest and most prestigious scholarly society. Its primary objective is to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences. The medals will be presented to Professors Kaspi and Macdonald at the RSC Awards Banquet on November 17, 2007.


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