2016 Craigdarroch Research Awards

Science, Engineering, Fine Arts

- Valerie Shore

An ocean explorer striving to preserve fragile marine ecosystems. A physicist unlocking the secrets of the universe. An oceanographer who makes science open and accessible to everyone. A writer who helps us interpret the trials and tribulations of modern life. And two engineers and an entrepreneur who came up with a brilliant idea and ran with it.

These are the winners of this year’s Craigdarroch Research Awards, which recognize outstanding research and creative achievement at the University of Victoria. Their accomplishments will be celebrated at an evening reception on campus on May 5.

“These individuals exemplify why UVic is consistently ranked nationally and internationally as a top research-intensive university,” says Vice-President Research David Castle. “They’re all leaders in their field who are pushing the boundaries of discovery, creativity and innovation to make an impact on our lives and the world around us.”

The winners are:

David H. Turpin Gold Medal for Career Achievement in Research

Verena Tunnicliffe, Biology and Earth and Ocean sciences

Over the course of her 36-year career, internationally renowned marine biologist Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe has combined an unquenchable passion for ocean discovery with a lifelong quest to understand the diversity, connectivity and survival of marine communities in oceans around the world. She has led or joined over 50 deep-sea expeditions and discovered over 80 new species, including nine named in her honour. Her drive to make the ocean realm accessible to everyone led to the world-leading VENUS subsea observatory (now part of Ocean Networks Canada), which she led for 11 years. Her current work is focused on ocean conservation issues related to marine protected areas, biodiversity and deep-sea mining.

Craigdarroch Silver Medal for Excellence in Research

Maxim Pospelov, Physics and Astronomy

What are the basic constituents of matter? How did elements form during the first few minutes after the Big Bang? What is the origin of dark matter? These are just some of the weighty questions that preoccupy the mind of Dr. Maxim Pospelov, described by peers as “one of the world’s leading lights” in theoretical particle physics. He’s only mid-career, yet is already an international force in his field, significantly influencing the course of experimental physics and accumulating a remarkable citation record in the process. He’s particularly well known for the breadth of his contributions, which span atomic and nuclear physics to astrophysics and cosmology.

Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization

Jay Cullen, Earth and Ocean Sciences

In the years following the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, chemical oceanographer Dr. Jay Cullen saw an emerging public demand for open-access information on radiation risks to the environment and human health on the BC coast. In 2014, he launched the InFORM Network, which engages scientists in Canada, the US, health experts, NGOs and citizen scientists to monitor and report on detectable radioactivity in seawater and seafood along the coast. He has adeptly and tirelessly used print media, social media, public engagements, and TV and radio appearances to demystify the science on radiation risk and on other issues related to anthropogenic contaminants, geoengineering and climate change.

Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression

Bill Gaston, Writing

For 38 years, Bill Gaston’s award-winning prose has exemplified the relentless curiosity, the deep human empathy, the acute moral vision and the commitment to exploring new creative frontiers that are at the heart of artistic excellence. He’s a pioneer in Canada and beyond in the genres of the short story and the literary novel, while also publishing poetry, essays, memoirs, plays and screenplays. His widely acclaimed works—which include six novels—span a range of topics from historical events, religion, colonialism, philosophy, intense wit, and contemporary foibles. He is, quite simply, one of the most original voices in contemporary Canadian literature.

Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Research Partnerships

Thomas Darcie and Stephen Neville, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Owen Matthews, Wesley Clover International and Alacrity Foundation

“An eye-opening and incredible learning experience” says one student of Engineering Entrepreneurship@UVic, an award-winning program created in 2009 by UVic engineers Dr. Thomas Darcie and Dr. Stephen Neville in partnership with “serial entrepreneur” Owen Matthews. The trio formed a unique marriage—a program where students graduate with a master’s degree in engineering, a diploma in entrepreneurship and equity in a business they help form. Everyone wins. UVic produces stronger and more successful students. The students get real-life learning experience with exceptional industry partners. And the companies, services and products they help develop stimulate innovation and regional economic growth.


The Craigdarroch Research Awards were established in 2003 to recognize outstanding research-focused and creative contributions at UVic. They were named for Craigdarroch Castle, the estate that was once home to UVic’s predecessor institution, Victoria College, from 1921 to 1946.


In this story

Keywords: research, award, astronomy, physics, biology, earth and ocean sciences, writing, engineering, industry partnerships

People: Verena Tunnicliffe, Maxim Pospelov, Jay Cullen, Bill Gaston, Thomas Darcie, Stephen Neville, Owen Matthews

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