Scholars named among Royal Society elite

Eight Western professors have been named among the nation’s top scholars in the arts, humanities and sciences by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), including six newly named Fellows and two New Scholars.

James Grier, Paul Potter, Gregor Reid, David Shoesmith, Xueliang (Andy) Sun and Charles Weijer were named named among the 89 new RSC Fellows, the society announced. They have been elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement.

Two additional Western scholars – Anita Kothari and Thy Phu – have been named to the RSC College of New Scholars, Artists & Scientists. This multidisciplinary recognition is presented to the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership.

I am impressed by the exceptional quality of this year’s nominees, which include the highest ever proportion of Francophones as newly elected Fellows,” said RSC President Maryse Lassonde. The RSC is proud to welcome all the new members within its institution and I particularly acknowledge the inclusion, as Honorary Fellows, of two women who have greatly contributed to improving the quality of life of Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

Founded in 1882, the RSC comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada. Its mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world.

This year’s new Fellows and Scholars will be celebrated during the Induction and Awards Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston, Ont.

Western’s scholars named to the Class of 2016 include:


James Grier
Don Wright Faculty of Music

James Grier has published widely in three areas: Textual criticism and editing music; music and liturgy in medieval Aquitaine; and popular music since the Second World War. This research has received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the American Council of Learned Societies, National Endowment for the Humanities and a Killam Research Fellowship.


Paul Potter
Classical Studies

Paul Potter spent more than 40 years studying the medieval Greek manuscripts containing the writings attributed to the classical Greek physician Hippocrates (who flourished around 400 BC), applied the data to produce an authoritative Greek text of over half these works and provided an accompanying English translation published in five volumes of the standard bilingual edition of ancient authors, the Loeb Classical Library.


Gregor Reid
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Gregor Reid has pioneered and promoted probiotics and the study of beneficial microbes since the 1980s. His studies led to oral and vaginal Lactobacillus products benefiting millions of women to manage bladder and vaginal health. He initiated programs bringing affordable probiotic food to developing countries. He identified new pathogens in the vagina and made discoveries related to the gut, breast, heart and use of probiotics to detoxify environmental pollutants.


David Shoesmith

David Shoesmith is an internationally renowned corrosion chemist. He works toward a solution of a key environmental problem faced by today’s society, i.e., the safe disposal of nuclear waste. His studies are also of fundamental importance for the oil and gas sector, providing a framework for addressing pipeline integrity issues. Shoesmith’s electrochemical and surface analytical techniques, as well as his paradigm-changing modelling approaches have been adopted by countries around the world.


Xueliang (Andy) Sun
Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Xueliang (Andy) Sun is recognized for his innovative solutions for critical and long-standing problems in clean energy using nanotechnology and creative engineering. He has invented nanosynthesis processes for electrocatalysts in fuel cells and electrode materials in Li ion batteries to revolutionarily reduce cost and increase lifetime. His patented technologies have been successfully transferred to a number of Canadian companies and led to the recent start-up of a company.


Charles Weijer
Philosophy, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Charles Weijer is the world authority on the ethics of randomized controlled trials. His publications on placebos, harm-benefit analysis, and protecting communities in research are broadly influential. He co-led a team that produced the first ethical guidelines for cluster-randomized trials. In 2008, he founded the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, dedicated to engagement between philosophers and scientists, and served as its first director.



Anita Kothari
Health Studies

Anita Kothari is a leading scholar in the area of knowledge translation at Western. Her work focuses on developing a greater understanding of how to support the use of research in decision-making by health policymakers, administrators and practitioners. She involves multiple community members, researchers, and government agencies at all stages of the research process. Her niche area of interest is the public health system and other community-based settings.


Thy Phu
English and Writing Studies

Thy Phu’s interdisciplinary research spans the breadth of cultural studies, including the history of photography, critical race studies and American literary and visual cultures. Her work, which has been supported by numerous grants and fellowships, stands out for its resounding impact on multiple audiences, by uncovering new archives, developing innovative methodologies for analysis of visual culture, and providing groundbreaking insights on affect, citizenship and the politics of racial visibility.



Vladimir Hachinski
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Vladimir Hachinski co-founded the first successful stroke unit, discovered the brain region involved in sudden death following stroke, and helped expound the stroke-Alzheimer disease connection. The concepts of brain attack, multi-infarct dementia, leukoaraiosis, vascular cognitive impairment and the ischemic score are his own. He has been editor of STROKE, President of the World Federation of Neurology and created the World Brain Alliance, World Stroke Day and the World Stroke Agenda.