Volume 96, Issue 77
Friday, February 14, 2003

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Profs receive Western honours

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Two Western professors have won the highest honour for research excellence given by the university.

The seventh annual Hellmuth Prizes for Achievement in Research were recently awarded to French professor Marilyn Randall and chemistry professor Peter Norton.

Randall is known for her work in Québécois literature and literary theory, and has been at Western since 1989. Her book, Pragmatic Plagiarism: Authorship, Profit, Power, is what garnered her the award.

"It was thrilling and stunning, [because] there are so many wonderful researchers at Western," Randall said, adding the award is more important than others she has received in the past. "It's a great honour."

Norton is a chemical physicist who has worked in the field of surface and interfacial science, and has been with Western since 1986. He has contributed to advancements in surface instrumentation techniques.

"I am very honoured and very pleased, particularly because [the award] is evaluated by your peers and that is the nicest way to be recognized," Norton said, regarding his selection.

Norton's research led to the development of the first interfacial force microscope in Canada. Currently, he is working on nanometer scale science, in the areas of physics, chemistry, engineering and biology.

Winning the award will not change his teaching and research strategies, but it has re-inspired his work, he explained.

"[Winning] certainly provides a feeling of enthusiasm, knowing that someone has looked at your work and finds it worthwhile," Norton said, adding he hopes the award will help him attract research funding and graduate students, in order to continue his work.

"[The Hellmuth prize] is considered the highest award at the university," said Western's VP-research Nils Petersen, adding both candidates are outstanding people in their fields.

Two awards are handed out per year – one in arts and social science and one in science, Petersen said.

Randall has won prizes for her interdisciplinary bilingual work, he said, adding Norton has had a long career, while producing a large body of work.

The Hellmuth prize is named in honour of Bishop Isaac Hellmuth, Western's founder.

The award consists of a certificate and a monetary reward, confirmed Petersen. Randall and Norton will be honoured at a ceremony on Mar. 20 in Conron Hall, University College, he added. "We are delighted to celebrate our best researchers and recognize that research is a big part of what we do here [at Western]."

–With files from Sean Turnbull and Chris Webden

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