Allan Carswell appointed to the Order of Canada

A leading Canadian scientist with roots at York University has been named a member to the Order of Canada. Allan Carswell (right), professor emeritus in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, was among 82 new appointments to the Order of Canada announced  Aug. 29 by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

Carswell is an internationally recognized leader in laser radar (lidar) applications, a field in which he has been working since its very beginnings in the early 1960s. He founded the company Optech Incorporated in 1974 to develop commercial systems based on lidar technology. He has led and managed the growth of Optech, expanding the company from its base in atmospheric lidar to its current position as a leading developer and manufacturer of commercial lidar systems for a wide and growing range of applications.

“For most of my career I have been involved in both academic and business activities. It has been very satisfying to see the development of students and to follow the evolution of many of their ideas into applications of significant economic and social benefit. York has provided a creative and stimulating environment in which to work,” said Carswell.

As a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Carswell is active in the York community. In May, he established The Optech Incorporated Advanced Optics Laboratory within York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. (See the May 26 issue of YFile.) And, the focus of his current lidar research is on Phoenix, the 2007 NASA mission to Mars which involves a group of Canadian scientists centred at York who are supported by the Canadian Space Agency and engineers and specialists at MDA and Optech Incorporated. They are developing instrumentation to fly to Mars in 2007. (See the Aug. 6 issue of YFile.)

Carswell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. He has held a variety of senior positions of responsibility, including president of the Canadian Association of Physicists, vice-president of the Canadian Academy of Science, and member of boards of directors of a number of industrial corporations and public institutions.

The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. It is Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. There are three different levels of membership – Companion, Officer and Member. Carswell has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his pioneering work in lidar and space research.

Right: The medal given to Canadians appointed as Members of the Order of Canada

Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council, chaired by the chief justice of Canada. The governor general is the Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order.