Royal Society of Canada: meet U of T's newest Fellows

Fourteen University of Toronto faculty members are among the 87 new Fellows announced this week by the Royal Society of Canada, the senior Canadian collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists.

“For U of T scholars to comprise 14 of the 87 new Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada is a testament to the brilliant research-intensive culture at the University of Toronto,” said U of T Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr.

“Students from undergraduates to PhD candidates know that they are learning from some of the world’s greatest thinkers, researchers and teachers – and that helps the university attract the best students from across the country and around the world.”
The U of T inductees encompass all three of the society’s academies, which are dedicated to the arts and humanities, science and social science. Research interests range widely, from food engineering and the ethics of immigration to wave propagation in fluids and DNA repair.
New Fellows under the rubric of the arts and humanities are Angela Esterhammer, whose work includes research into improvised poetry in the 19th century; Margaret MacMillan, an historian and acclaimed author who is also Warden of St. Antony’s College at Oxford University; Margaret Morrison, a leading figure in the study of modeling and unified theories in the sciences; and David Wilson, who has written pioneering studies of Thomas Paine, William Cobbett, the United Irishmen and Thomas D’Arcy McGee.
Social Science inductees are Joseph Carens, a founder of the Canadian School of political theory who studies citizenship, immigration and liberalism from a humane perspective, and Tania Li of the department of anthropology, whose boundary-crossing work includes analysis of economic development and prosperity in Indonesia. 
U of T is represented in three divisions of the Royal Society’s Academy of Science. Levente László Diósady, whose research is concerned with fortifying foods with micronutrients, and Brendan Frey, a pioneer in applying machine learning to genome biology, have been named in the Applied Sciences and Engineering division. (Read more about Diósady and Frey.)

Inductees into the life sciences division include Daniel Durocher, a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital noted for his work in DNA signaling and damage repair; Anne-Claude Gingras, a leader in the field of systems biology and how protein interactions affect disease; Andreas Laupacis, an epidemiologist whose work has influenced global policy and practice in stroke prevention and kidney disease; and Arthur Slutsky, whose innovative work in mechanical ventilation has resulted in decreased mortality in patients with respiratory failure. Both Laupacis and Slutsky hail from the department of medicine while Durocher and Gingras are affiliated with the department of molecular genetics.
Finally, the mathematical and physical sciences division has welcomed Roberto Abraham, an astronomer whose research has established existence of massive evolved galaxies in the distant universe; and Catherine Sulem of the department of mathematics, a specialist in wave propagation whose predictions of singularities in optical fibres are internationally recognized as a major achievement.
While Royal Society of Canada focuses on outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement, many of the Fellows turn out naturally to be excellent teachers as well. 
“Bob is a charismatic educator,” Jielai Zhang, a PhD student in the department of astronomy and astrophysics, says of Roberto Abraham. “Not only is he extremely passionate about astronomy and research, he has the uncanny ability to know what’s interesting and inspiring to his students. 
“As a supervisor, his thinking is that no one strategy can work for all students. He is highly adaptable. He is able to see what his students most enjoy, what his students most need to succeed at any one time and provide appropriate guidance.”
Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada comprises more than 2,000 scholars and artists selected by their peers. The class of 2015 will be inducted formally on Nov. 27 in Victoria, BC. For a full list of new fellows, go to