Poet, chemist to get honorary degrees

Poet Patrick Lane and Harvard University chemist George Whitesides will receive honorary degrees from the University of Victoria at Fall 2013 convocation ceremonies in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium.

In all, 1,293 degrees, diplomas and certificates will be granted on Nov. 12 and 13 during ceremonies to be webcast live at uvic.ca/convocation.

A ceremony to install Professor Jamie Cassels, QC, as UVic’s seventh president will be part of the student convocation ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

Following are brief biographies of this fall’s honorands, with degree presentation dates:

Patrick Lane, Honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13

Patrick Lane is considered one of the great poets of his generation. His life’s work – with more than two dozen books written or edited – has touched the hearts and minds of readers in dozens of countries.

Lane was born in Nelson in 1939. His early poetry was influenced by the working-class concerns and first-person perspectives of the poets Al Purdy and Milton Acorn. Lane’s style, widely praised for its gritty honesty, has evolved to reflect a sense of wonder and spiritual awakening. He has also excelled in the genres of fiction and memoir.

In 1978, his Poems, New and Selected, earned the Governor General’s Literary Award. Lane and his wife, the poet Lorna Crozier, moved to Victoria in 1991 to write and to teach at UVic. It began a period in which he extended his range into meditative poems, composed an elegiac sequence and worked with prose poetry.

He is an admired teacher, workshop leader, and supporter of emerging poets in Victoria and across Canada.

After Lane completed rehabilitation for alcohol dependency, he and Crozier co-edited and contributed to a collection of essays, Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast in 2001. His memoir, There is a Season: A Memoir in a Garden, recounts how his tending of the couple’s half-acre garden has helped him remain sober. The book has been a source of strength for others recovering from various forms of addiction.

Dr. George Whitesides, Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc)
2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13

Dr. George Whitesides of Harvard University, though primarily a chemist, has demonstrated an originality of ideas and results across science, engineering and medicine – and several other fields that he helped to invent.

His work in organic chemistry – especially in molecular self-assembly at the nanoscopic level – has led to breakthrough applications in electronics, photonics, molecular biology, and medicine.

He has made key contributions to technologies that are central in academic and industrial chemistry. His work in the interface between man-made materials and human cells has led to new medicines and his co-founding of the biopharmaceutical company, Theravance.

One of the world’s most prolific chemists, he has had a major impact on the work of other scientists. His research journal articles have been cited close to 92,000 times. The “Hirsch-index” compiled by the Royal Chemistry Society as a measurement of the impact of an individual’s research placed Whitesides ahead of any other living chemist.

Much of his current focus is related to medical diagnostic tools suited for use in the developing world. He has received the US National Medal of Science, the Robert A. Welch Foundation Award, and the Kyoto Prize.

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Media contacts

Ian Case (UVic Ceremonies and Events) at 250-721-7634 or iancase@uvic.ca

Mike McNeney (UVic Alumni Communications) at 250-721-7642 or mmcneney@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: convocation, award, writing, chemistry

People: Patrick Lane, George Whitesides

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