Memorial musicians, engineer elected to Royal Society of Canada

Sep 14th, 2016

By Jeff Green

Dr. Bing Chen
Memorial musicians, engineer elected to Royal Society of Canada

A pair of researchers from the School of Music are receiving the highest honour for Canadian scholars, while an engineering professor is being recognized as an emerging leader in his field of expertise.

Dr. Nancy Dahn and Prof. Timothy Steeves — who perform professionally as the award-winning Duo Concertante — have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). The society comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. Scholars are chosen by peers for their exceptional contributions to their respective fields.

Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves, both professors of music, are among 89 new fellows elected.

Personal connections

“It feels tremendous to have our work recognized in this way,” said Prof. Steeves. “We were grateful when we found out Memorial was nominating us, so to actually be elected fellows is very humbling.

“On a personal note it is important to me because my father was a Fellow,” he added. “He was a very well respected botanist from Harvard who came to Canada in the ’50s. He passed away a few years ago and it is special to be connected to him in this way.”

Dr. Dahn also has a personal connection to the society. Her older brother was elected for his contributions to the field of physics.

“It’s sort of extra cool to be elected with him as a member in a completely different field,” she said in an interview with the Gazette.

‘Incredibly grateful’

“My reaction was surprise, disbelief and happiness,” Dr. Dahn added. “It’s of course a big thrill and a wonderful honour to receive this kind of recognition as an artist. We’ve built an artistic life as performers and artist-teachers around and inside a wonderful academic institution: Memorial. I’m incredibly grateful for the support of the university, which has enabled touring, recording and commissioning not to mention the Tuckamore Festival. Without that, we would not be receiving this Royal Society recognition!”

International careers

Dr. Dahn, an acclaimed violinist, and Prof. Steeves, a renowned pianist, have performed nationally and internationally at recital and performance halls. They are the founders and co-artistic directors of the Tuckamore Festival for talented young musicians, a celebration of chamber music held each summer in the St. John’s area, including on the St. John’s campus. Both have also been recognized with Memorial’s President’s Award for Outstanding Research.

Engineering recognition

Dr. Bing Chen, professor of civil (environmental) engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is among the latest inductees to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. The college is the country’s first national system of multidisciplinary recognition for the emerging generation of Canada’s intellectual leadership.

His key areas of research include marine and coastal pollution mitigation, oil spill response and cleanup, water and wastewater treatment and environmental decision-making. He has received many awards and distinctions, such as election to the Global Young Academy and the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award.

He established and leads the Northern Region Persistent Organic Pollution Control Laboratory — the first of its kind in Canada. The lab is recognized worldwide for its pioneering research on persistent and toxic organic pollutants, such as oils and pesticides, and their pollution mitigation in cold regions and harsh marine environments.

Career milestone

Dr. Chen says the RSC has done “irreplaceable” work in promoting scholarship in Canada and beyond. He also says it is a privilege to be part of the prestigious group and to continuously make contributions to the field.

“I need to say that this honour reflects the great support and encouragement I have received from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the university over the years,” said Dr. Chen.

“I am happy about what we have achieved and would like to avail of the opportunity of promoting the importance of our work through the RSC. Also, I need to say that this honour reflects the great support and encouragement I have received from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the university over the years.”

Exceptional research

Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), says the recognition for Dr. Dahn, Prof. Steeves and Dr. Chen, speaks to the calibre of artistic and academic work of this year’s inductees.

“Once again, Memorial’s international reputation for exceptional research is well deserved,” he said. “Dr. Dahn and Prof. Steeves have built stellar careers as musicians and educators, and Dr. Chen has already made invaluable contributions to the field of civil engineering. I congratulate all three for this enormous accomplishment and wish them well in their future endeavours here at Memorial.”

Dr. Dahn, Prof. Steeves and Dr. Chen will be honoured by the RSC during a ceremony on Nov. 18 in Kingston, Ont.



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