Seven Western faculty members are being honoured as part of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) class of 2022.
Kim Baines, Aaron Fenster, William Fisher and Adrian Owen were recently announced as RSC Fellows and Arghya Paul as Western’s newest member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. Today, Christopher Alcantara and Valerie Oosterveld were named recipients of RSC Awards, a prestigious honour celebrating outstanding achievements in advancing knowledge and understanding of the past and present.
“This is fantastic news that recognizes an incredibly impressive group of researchers and scholars who have had an impact at Western, within the academy, and for society,” said Lesley Rigg, vice-president (Research). “While these are individual awards and distinctions, I know many of the recipients are quick to acknowledge the vital role students, trainees, colleagues, technicians and staff have all played in their success. It’s a testament to the strength of Western’s research community.”
2022 Royal Society Award recipients
For Oosterveld, a law professor, and Alcantara, a professor of political science, the names associated with their awards make their honours especially meaningful.
Valerie Oosterveld, Faculty of Law
Oosterveld received the Ursula Franklin Award in Gender Studies, for her scholarly work in gender-focused research and her translational efforts to instigate change and further the understanding and formation of international criminal law.
“I am incredibly pleased to be recognized for my work with the Ursula Franklin Award,” Oosterveld said. “I met Dr. Franklin when I was a law student and a new graduate, and she was inspirational. To win an award named after her is very special, and to be recognized by my peers for my ongoing work on gender issues in international criminal law is wonderful.”
Oosterveld had long been interested in human rights law when she seized the opportunity to take a course in that field during law school.
“The professor, Rebecca Cook, approached the subject through the lens of international women’s human rights, and I saw how important it was ─ and still is ─ to focus on gender issues,” she said. “I became her research assistant, including on her groundbreaking book on women’s international human rights. I learned a great deal from her.
“When I began my own research in the field of international criminal law, I brought that lens to my work, aiming to ‘surface’ where international law had overlooked or ignored the harms done to women and girls in war. Since then, I have gone on to examine a wide range of gender issues related to holding individuals accountable for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
Earlier this year, Oosterveld appeared before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands to present amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) arguments in the case of Prosecutor v. Ongwen.
Dominic Ongwen was a senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group and, in 2021, he was found guilty of 61 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005. Many charges were for sexual and gender-based violence. Ongwen was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment and his case is now on appeal.
Christopher Alcantara, Political Science, Faculty of Social Science
“It’s a huge honour to have won this medal, given that it was first won by Donald Savoie, one of Canada’s top political scientists,” Alcantara said. “His work has had a huge impact on the study and practice of politics in Canada. It seems unreal to receive an award that he has won.”
As a leader in the study of multilevel governance, Alcantara’s work has generated new insights into the complex political relationships between Indigenous communities and all three levels of government in Canada. His books, articles and media commentary, as well as his advisory activities, have helped shape policy on modern treaty negotiations and government and community efforts to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities.
“Most of my academic career has focused on trying to understand how we can improve the practice of public governance in Canada, and especially the intergovernmental relationships between Indigenous communities and the various levels of governments, and so to receive this medal in recognition of those efforts is really gratifying,” he said.
Western’s 2022 Royal Society of Canada Fellows
Kim Baines, Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Kim Baines is an internationally recognized scholar in the fundamental chemistry of low valent, highly reactive main group compounds. She pioneered the synthesis and chemistry of germasilenes and novel low-valent germanium, tin and gallium cations, opening new areas of scientific inquiry. Capitalizing on this research, Baines developed the synthesis of new inorganic polymers and main group catalysts and furthered the understanding of semiconductor surface chemistry.
Aaron Fenster, Medical Biophysics, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Known worldwide as the pioneer of the development of 3D ultrasound imaging, Aaron Fenster is a professor in the department of medical biophysics, and chair of the imaging sciences division of the department of medical imaging. Throughout his career, Fenster’s focus on unmet patient needs has been the driving force behind his developments, which have made invaluable contributions to Canadian medical imaging science and technology.
William Fisher, Psychology, Faculty of Social Science
William Fisher, professor emeritus and adjunct research professor in the department of psychology and the department of obstetrics and gynecology, is an internationally recognized scientist whose work has profoundly affected the health of men and women worldwide. His research concerning the promotion of health behaviour change is pioneering and his Information-Motivation-Behavioural Skills (IMB) model has reshaped the science of prevention. The world’s foremost public health agencies have applied the IMB model in health promotion efforts, including in the recent focus on vaccine acceptance and sexual consent.
Adrian Owen, Physiology and Pharmacology, Psychology, Western Institute for Neuroscience
Adrian Owen is a professor of cognitive neuroscience and imaging and the former Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging. His research combines structural and functional neuroimaging with neuropsychological studies of brain-injured patients. Owen is best known for showing that functional neuroimaging can reveal conscious awareness in some patients who appear to be entirely vegetative and can even allow some of these individuals to communicate their thoughts and wishes to the outside world.
Western’s newest member of the RSC’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists
Arghya Paul, Biochemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Canada Research Chair Arghya Paul has made seminal contributions to the development of sustainable nanomaterials and nanocomposite hydrogels for diverse biomedical applications. Examples include genomic DNA-based injectable materials for localized drug delivery, mineral-based nanoparticles for bone repair, 3D-printed scaffolds for patient’s anatomy-specific tissue regeneration, biomimetic hydrogel coatings to combat medical device-associated complications. His work has led to transformative medical innovations, including the development of the next-generation of bioactive stents and other surgical implants.
The Royal Society of Canada will host an in-person celebration for the new fellows and members on Nov. 25, 2022, in Calgary, Alberta, where awards for outstanding research and scholarly achievement will also be presented.
“The Royal Society of Canada is delighted to welcome this outstanding cohort of artists, scholars and scientists,” said Jeremy McNeil, RSC President and professor of biology at Western. “These individuals are recognized for their exceptional contributions to their respective disciplines and are a credit to Canada.”