Hellmuth Prize celebrates elite researchers

Western professors Kathryn Brush (Visual Arts) and Tsun-Kong Sham (Chemistry) have been awarded the 2017 Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research. The honour recognizes faculty members with outstanding international reputations for their contributions in research – one of the defining hallmarks of a university. Two prizes are offered annually, one in the area broadly defined as the natural sciences and engineering, one in the social sciences and humanities.

Kathryn Brush – Visual Arts

An internationally recognized art historian and influential scholar of medieval art, Kathryn Brush’s focus on the histories, theories and practices of art history and visual culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries has made her one of the more remarkable and go-to researchers for everything medieval.

Her primary research interests include Romanesque and Gothic art; medieval sculpture; the historiography of cultural-historical thought; histories of museums, archives and art collecting; and medievalism. Her intellectual scope and impact include seminal books on European and North American art historiography, the history of museums and medievalism in Canada.

Brush’s sustained creativity and leadership in both the scholarly and curatorial realms has significantly enlarged – and revised – the critical study of art and cultural history in Europe, United States and Canada.

More recently, Brush was awarded Western’s Distinguished University Professorship, acknowledging her sustained excellence in scholarship over her substantial career, and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, elected by her peers in recognition of her outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement.

Tsun-Kong Sham – Chemistry

Tsun-Kong Sham, a world-class materials chemist, is the authority when it comes to the application of synchrotron radiation to materials science. His area of research is also of strategic importance to the university, anchoring its strength in materials for sustainable energy.

Sham’s research centres on the experimental and theoretical investigation of the electronic structure of matter and its interplay with materials properties, materials performance in a designed functionality and spectroscopy. Emphasis is placed on nanomaterials in general and energy materials and nano carrier for drug delivery in particular.

Sham has been vital as part of the administration of the Canadian Light Source, a national facility in Saskatoon, as well as scientific director of the Canadian Synchrotron Radiation Facility at the Synchrotron Radiation Center (University of Wisconsin-Madison) since 1998.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and recipient of the prestigious John C. Polanyi Prize of the Canadian Society for Chemistry, Sham, PhD’75, was most recently named to the Order of Canada.


Previous winners of the Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research include:

1997 – Alan Davenport, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Ian Steele, History;

1998 – William Fyfe, Earth Sciences, and Tom Lennon, Philosophy;

1999 – Michael Bancroft, Chemistry, and David Laidler, Economics;

2000 – Richard Puddephatt, Chemistry, and Regna Darnell, Anthropology;

2001 – Michael Locke, Biology, and Tilottama Rajan, English;

2002 – Grant McFadden, Microbiology and Immunology, and Angela Esterhammer, Modern Languages and Literatures;

2003 – Peter Norton, Chemistry, and Marilyn Randall, French Studies;

2004 – Robert Hegele, Medicine & Biochemistry, and David Bentley, English;

2005 – Ian Mitchell, Physics, and Richard Vernon, Political Science;

2006 – Mel Goodale, Psychology and Physiology and Pharmacology, and Joy Parr, Faculty of Information and Media Studies;

2007 – William Fisher, Psychology, and Rajni Patel, Electrical and Computer Engineering;

2008 – Aaron Fenster, Robarts Research Institute, Schulich, and Patrick Mahon, Visual Arts;

2009 – Brian Feagan, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and John Whalley, Economics;

2010 – Gregor Reid, Lawson Health Research Institute, and Heather Laschinger, Health Sciences;

2011 – Ann Chambers, Lawson Health Research Institute, and Michael Groden, English;

2012 – John Meyer, Psychology, and Terry Peters, Medical Imaging and Medical Biophysics;

2013 – Paul Beamish, Ivey Business School, and Adrian Owen, Psychology;

2014 – Stewart Harris, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and Charles Weijer, Arts & Humanities;

2015 – Robert Young, Political Science, and Shiva Singh, Biology;

2016 – John Leonard, Arts & Humanities, and Jesse Zhu, Engineering; and

2017 – Kathryn Brush, Visual Arts, and Tsun-Kong Sham, Chemistry.