AI researcher, Soviet historian among winners of $100K Killam Prize

OTTAWA — Five of Canada’s leading scholars in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to Soviet history are being honoured with the $100,000 Killam Prize.

The Canada Council for the Arts recognized academics from across the country Thursday for outstanding contributions to the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering.

Winners included Universite de Montreal professors Andre Blais, an expert in electoral studies whose project examined the behaviour of voters and parties in 25 elections across five countries, and Yoshua Bengio, whose expertise in artificial intelligence has also earned him the A.M. Turing Award, known as the “Nobel Prize for Computer Science.”

Dr. Stephen Scherer of the University of Toronto was commended for research that has shaped our understanding of the human genome and founding a database used in thousands of clinical diagnoses per day.

Fellow University of Toronto professor Lynne Viola, a specialist in the history of the Soviet Union, and University of Waterloo systems design engineer Keith W. Hipel were also among the honourees.

Winners are chosen by a committee of their peers. Previous winners include Victoria Kaspi, the late Mark Wainberg, and Nobel Prize winner Arthur McDonald.

The Killam program also announced recipients of its research fellowships, which dole out $840,000 over two years to six scholars for independent research projects.

This year’s group includes: Matt Dobbs of McGill University for a project called ”Unveiling the Cosmos with a New Paradigm Digital Radio Telescope”; Dennis Hall of University of Alberta for “A Green Chemistry Blueprint for Direct Catalytic Functionalization of Feedstock Alcohols”; Catherine Sulem of University of Toronto for ”Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations: Wave Propagation in Fluids, Optics, and Plasmas”; Marten van Kerkwijk of University of Toronto for ”Probing Extreme (Astro)Physics with Neutron Stars”; and Xiao Yu Wu of University of Toronto for ”Smart Nanomedicine Combo for Treatment and Diagnosis of Diseases in the Brain.”

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