Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Jin Jiang and Room author Emma Donoghue, LLD’13, were named among the 8th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants, along with several other artists, academics, entrepreneurs and champions of worthy causes. Presented by Canadian Immigrant magazine and sponsored by RBC, this annual awards celebrate the achievements of inspiring Canadian immigrants.
“This year’s group of 25 winners is an inspiring and eclectic mix that showcases the diverse talent that immigrants bring to Canada,” said Margaret Jetelina, editor of Canadian Immigrant magazine. “We are very proud that, over the eight years of this awards program, that we have now recognized 200 amazing immigrants as Top 25s. And we have honestly just scratched the surface of immigrant talent in Canada.”
Hundreds of nominations were received, from which 75 finalists were shortlisted by a diverse judging panel that included several past winners. More than 50,000 online votes were cast, making it the most popular year in the award’s history. The 25 winners were chosen based on a combination of votes and a second round of judging.
Donoghue, originally of Ireland, now of London, Ont., is an international best-selling author known for her award-winning novels such as Room, which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film last year. Her Canadian Immigrant bio reads, in part:
When her novel, Room, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the film adaptation was nominated for four Oscars, author Donoghue said “I had the wonderful sensation of making both my homelands – Ireland and Canada – proud.”
Donoghue has won countless awards for Room, the fictional story of a kidnapped woman held for years in captivity with her son, including the Hughes and Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the WH Smith Paperback of the Year Award.
As a screenplay, which Donoghue wrote, Room went on to win numerous accolades including the Most Popular Canadian Feature Film Award at Vancouver International Film Festival, the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and an American Film Institute Top 10 award, to name just a few.
Donoghue came on to the literary scene long before this collection of accolades. The daughter of the literary critic Denis Donoghue, she earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Cambridge in England, and started writing full time when she was 23. She says she has been lucky enough to never have had an “honest job” after being “sacked” after a single summer month as a chambermaid.
She moved permanently to Canada in 1998, where she settled in London, Ont., with her partner Chris Roulston and now school-aged children, Finn and Una. “The Ontario climate was a shock when I first immigrated, and I wouldn’t say I’ve ever overcome it,” Donoghue said. “But I have started using a treadmill desk so I can get my exercise at home year-round.”
It makes a vivid image, picturing her walking at her treadmill desk as she typed her most recent book, Frog Music. She is now adapting the literary mystery, which was inspired by a never-solved murder of a crossdressing frog catcher in San Francisco in 1876, into a feature film for Monumental Pictures.
She also no doubt worked up a sweat while writing her upcoming new novel, The Wonder, about a girl in 19th-century Ireland who claims not to eat, to be released in September 2016. She’s also busy writing The Lotterys Plus One, her first children’s book in a series about an 11-person Toronto family, which is coming out in 2017.
Jin Jiang, originally of China, now of London, Ont., is a professor and NSERC/UNENE Senior Industrial Research Chair at Western. He has made contributions in the area of control, instrumentation and electrical systems for nuclear power plants. His Canadian Immigrant bio reads, in part:
“Canada needs you as much as you need Canada.” These became words to live by for Jin Jiang, who arrived here as a student in 1982, and has made education his life’s work as a prominent engineering professor and researcher.
“My daily ritual is to ask how I can do more today for Canada. This is the fundamental driving force to get me going every day,” Jiang said. “There is no other country in the world that can offer such a unique environment for personal growth.”
As a youth during China’s Cultural Revolution, a time when the country’s education system was in turmoil, Jiang fought hard for his own education. His hard work paid off; he was among the one per cent accepted into Xi’an Jiaotong University in 1977, and graduated with top honours. With a burning desire to learn and explore, he arrived in Canada to further his studies at the University of New Brunswick at the age of 22, even though he knew very little English.
“I received a lot of help from many Canadian friends to overcome my culture shock in the first few years,” he remembered gratefully.
He pursued his studies with vigour, completing a master of science in engineering degree within 18 months and then a PhD in philosophy. He became an assistant professor at the age of 30, a full professor at 40 and a chair professor at 43.
As the prestigious NSERC/UNENE Senior Industrial Research Chair Professor at Western, Jiang is also making extraordinary contributions in the area of control, instrumentation and electrical systems for nuclear power plants. He works closely with global organizations, such as International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations, to put Canada on the map in this field. His works have been cited around the world more than 6,000 times.
Over his career, he has taught thousands of students, including more than 30 doctoral and 40 master’s candidates. “I hope to be able to train more qualified engineers for Canada by being a dedicated teacher and an innovative researcher,” he said. “Canada provides a fertile ground to its citizens to grow and to become the best one can ever possibly be.”