Whalley receives Killam Award

No stranger to accolades during his storied career, Western Economics professor John Whalley has added a top Canadian research honour to his portfolio – the 2012 Killam Prize.

The Killam Program presents five $100,000 awards annually to outstanding Canadian scholars working in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering in recognition of career achievements.

These awards, among Canada’s most distinguished research awards, are made possible through the Killam Trusts by a bequest of Mrs. Dorothy J. Killam, and a gift she made before her death in 1965. A committee of 15 eminent Canadian scholars appointed by the Canada Council chooses recipients. The Killam Prize ceremony will be held at Rideau Hall on May 15.

“It’s a pleasant experience,” Whalley said of the award. “I am, of course, pleased with it, and just as pleased with the support from the university and my colleagues over the years here at Western.”

Whalley is Western’s fourth Killam recipient since the awards’ inception in 1981. Other winners have included Maurice A. Bergougnou, Engineering, 1999; Alan G. Davenport, Engineering, 1993; and Henry J.M. Barnett, Health Sciences, 1988.

“As a recipient of the prestigious Killam Prize, Professor Whalley joins a very select group of distinguished Canadian scholars and we are delighted that he has received this much deserved recognition,” Western President Amit Chakma said. “John’s expertise is highly regarded around the world, and his scholarship has influenced economic policy development in areas ranging from taxation and public finance to international trade and climate change.”

Whalley’s interest in applying abstract mathematical concepts to global issues stems from his time at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom and Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where he worked as a teaching assistant to Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. His early research focused on applying general equilibrium theory to taxation, with an initial interest in the economic integration of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community, which later developed into the European Union.

“I learned there (at Yale), where I studied under three Nobel Prize winners, that the value of abstract theory lies in its application in practice and policy,” Whalley said.

The 2009 Hellmuth Award winner’s research quickly expanded from the domain of public finance to international trade and development, which saw him conduct part of the early computational work for the Tokyo Round of the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs. Before the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, he had already begun to examine international trade through the lens of globalization.

In 1979, Whalley was named director of the Centre for International Economic Relations at Western, a position he still holds on a joint basis.

Since the early 1990s, climate change has been a major research area for Whalley. He has focused on the effects of alternative policy approaches, and on the interface between environment and trade. He joined Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) as a distinguished fellow in 2004.

Recently, his focus on Chinese policy issues has led him to conclude, “nothing happens in China without impacting the rest of the world.”

In January 2011, Whalley was listed as the top-ranked Canadian researcher in the Research Papers in Economics database, which factors the number of papers published and the ranking of the individual journals. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Canada and the Econometric Society, and a foreign fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. He is the co-editor of CESifo Economic Studies, the journal published by the Center for Economic Studies and Oxford University Press, as well as Economic Forum, published by the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. He is also a former joint managing editor of The World Economy.

Other 2012 winners included: Jean Grondin, University of Montreal; Geoffrey Hinton, University of Toronto; Mark Wainberg, McGill University; and Louise Taillefer, University of Sherbrooke.