Two York professors inducted into the Royal Society of Canada

Two York University professors, whose prowess in antimatter and feminist philosophy is world-renowned, have been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). Professor Eric Hessels, York’s Canada Research Chair in Atomic Physics, and Professor Lorraine Code, a Distinguished Research Professor in philosophy, have been inducted into the society as Fellows. The society elected 60 new Fellows and three Foreign Fellows to its ranks for 2005. Both will be officially inducted on Nov. 27, 2005, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Hessels and Code, while coming from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, were nominated to the society for their dedication to excellence in their particular fields of endeavour and according to the society, they along with the other inductees enhance Canada’s competitiveness on a global basis.

Known as the “master of antimatter”, Eric Hessels (right) has been inducted into the society’s Academy of Science. He is one of the top experimentalists in the world making high precision studies of one, two and three electron systems (atomic hydrogen, helium, lithium) to 200 parts per billion. The results enable quantum electrodynamics to be tested with a new precision. Hessels has been a pioneer in the project to make antihydrogen (antiproton and a positron), to be used by the ATRAP (Antihydrogen Trap) group at CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is headquartered in Geneva and possesses the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

His international research excellence has been recognized by many awards, including the Polanyi Prize, the Herzberg Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Francis Pipkin Award of the American Physical Society, a Canadian Research Chair (Tier I), and an NSERC Steacie Memorial Fellowship.

Lorraine Code (left) is best-known for her work in epistemology, also known as theory of knowledge. Code has been inducted into the society’s Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has focused much of her research on epistemic responsibility, or the kinds of responsibilities that people who present themselves as “knowers” are required to fulfill, and on feminist epistemology. Code is currently developing the concept of ecological thinking which, as she explains, involves “thinking in a way that attempts to chart how such factors as place, situation, circumstance, subjectivity and other particularities contribute to the production and circulation of knowledge.” Her work analyses the politics of situated knowledge within a feminist, post-colonial, anti-racist and class-conscious frame. Internationally-renowned, Code has paved the way for new understandings of feminist epistemology as thoughtful practice. Code was also the first woman to hold the position of Distinguished Research Professor at York University.

Election to the Royal Society of Canada is the highest honour that can be attained by scholars, artists and scientists in Canada. “The Society is now proud to celebrate the intellectual achievements of the new Fellows,” said Gilles Paquet, the society’s president. “We wish to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of persons of talent, expertise and creativity in all fields, from experimental and applied science to health and medical sciences, and from social sciences and humanities to the various artistic domains.”

For more information on the 2005 Fellows, visit the Royal Society of Canada Web site.