Four McGill researchers honoured by Acfas


Astrophysicist, neurologist, environmental scientist and doctoral student recognized

Four McGill University researchers were recognized with prestigious awards at the 63rd annual Gala de l'Acfas (Association francophone pour le savoir) at the Centre des sciences de Montréal on October 11. Prof. Vicky Kaspi received the Prix Urgel-Archambault for her outstanding contribution to the field of astrophysics; Prof. Don Smith received the Prix Michel-Jurdant in recognition of his progressive work in environmental science; and Edith Hamel was acknowledged with the Prix Adrien-Pouliot for research excellence in collaboration with scientists in France. Marie-Ève Brault, a doctoral student at the McGill-affiliated Lady Davis Institute, was one of five winners of the Concours de vulgarisation de la recherche de l'Acfas.

"McGill University is enormously proud of its four Acfas Prize winners," said Denis Thérien, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations), "because the Acfas Prizes recognize not only the outstanding contributions that these researchers are making in their own disciplines, but also their efforts to reach out to the public with their groundbreaking findings. These individuals represent the breadth and excellence of McGill University's research legacy."

Prof. Kaspi, McGill's Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology and Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics, is an exceptional physicist who is internationally renowned for her cutting-edge work on neutron stars, pulsars and supernovae remnants. In 2005, Prof. Kaspi and her team discovered the fastest-rotating pulsar known to science and more than 20 pulsars in a single star cluster in the Milky Way – both findings yielding important new information about the nature of one of the most mysterious forms of matter in the universe.

Prof. Smith, James McGill Professor and chair of the Department of Plant Science, specializes in areas of the physiology, ecology, production and quality of crops. His recent work focuses on methods to increase the sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into crop plants, for ultimate sequestration into the soil – research that is critical in its direct link to greenhouse gas management.

Dr. Edith Hamel, a neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University, is internationally renowned for her innovative work in neuroscience that focuses on the regulation of cerebral circulation. The goal of Dr. Hamel's work is to understand how nerve cells control regional blood flow in the brain and how this relationship is altered in pathological states like Alzheimer's disease and migraine headache. Through understanding of the mechanisms involved, her research could help in the development of new drugs aimed at preserving a normal blood supply to the brain or decreasing vascular head pain.

Marie-Ève Brault, anatomy and cell biology doctoral student at the Lady Davis Institute at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, wrote her award-winning research paper on the enzyme telomerase as it relates to aging and cancer. The Concours de vulgarisation de la recherché de l'Acfas seeks to make scientific research topics accessible to the general public. Ms. Brault's paper will be published in Le Soleil in January 2008.

For more than 80 years, Acfas has pursued a noble mission: to promote scientific activity, to stimulate research and to disseminate knowledge. The Quebec-based organization has been an active player in the scientific community through a number of activities, including its annual congress, a bimonthly magazine and the awarding of prizes for outstanding contributions to research.

On the Web: Acfas

Contact Information

Allison Flynn
McGill University
allison.j.flynn [at]
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