Exceptional research Science leaders appointed as Honorary Research Professors

Four more exceptional research leaders have been appointed as Honorary Research Professors in the Faculty of Science.

Randy Sobie and Robert McPherson from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, as well as Francis Zwiers and Robert Moody from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, have been awarded this distinction. 

Dean of Science Rob Lipson established this designation to recognize truly exceptional adjunct professors involved with the research taking place at UVic and to strengthen their connection to the Faculty and the University. Honorary Research Professor appointments are recommended by the ARPT committee of the nominating unit and decided upon by the Dean of Science. Appointments last a term of 5 years.

Randy Sobie

Dr. Randy Sobie (Physics and Astronomy) is an Institute of Particle Physics (IPP) Principal Research Scientist. A world leader in developing the tools to utilize cloud computing for experimental high-energy physics, Sobie joined UVic in 1992 and has carried out research with the OPAL experiment at the CERN Large Electron Positron Collider and on the BaBar experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. He is active within the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Randy has multiple strands to his research activity in experimental particle physics. He is an expert in the physics of the tau lepton, and has led many analyses and graduate supervisions on OPAL and BaBar, focusing on the search for new physics through precision measurements of rare tau lepton decays. Randy is currently the Director of HEPnet/Canada, which is responsible for national and international high-energy physics networks in Canada, itself a key component to the worldwide computing network used by the ATLAS collaboration. Randy also spearheads a world-leading group in research computing, with significant contributions to grid and cloud computing for particle physics research. This work has been recognized by numerous grants, and contracts with commercial partners, as well as frequent invited talks at scientific computing conferences. Most recently, Randy was appointed as the incoming Director (from July 2017) of the VISPA Research Centre.

Rob McPhersonDr. Robert McPherson (Physics and Astronomy) is an Institute of Particle Physics (IPP) Principal Research Scientist. McPherson is in a rarefied category, currently holding one of the highest profile positions globally in experimental high-energy physics, as Deputy Spokesperson of the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. Since joining the UVic group in 1997, he has carried out research on the OPAL experiment (over 500 people) at the CERN Large Electron Positron Collider, and then transitioned to the ATLAS experiment (over 3000 people) at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. He played major roles in the operation of both the OPAL and ATLAS detectors in multiple areas including online data processing, software and computing tools, data quality and calorimetry. An internationally recognized expert in collider searches for supersymmetric phenomena, Rob has contributed to a large array of physics analyses with the main focus on searches for physics beyond the Standard Model, especially searches for evidence of supersymmetry. He has successfully supervised many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows within both OPAL and ATLAS. Rob's scientific expertise and leadership skills have been and remain in high demand. He served as OPAL Physics Coordinator, and has held progressively more senior leadership positions on the ATLAS experiment, including Principal Investigator of the ATLAS Canada Collaboration (over 150 people, 2007-2015) and Principal Investigator of the ATLAS Victoria group (2003-2015). Most recently, he was seconded to CERN to serve as Deputy Spokesperson of the global ATLAS Collaboration (2015-2017) and as such is leading a significant fraction of the active particle physicists in the world.

Francis ZwiersDr. Francis Zwiers (Mathematics & Statistics) has pioneered the use of many statistical techniques for investigating challenging problems in climate change: the detection and attribution of change in the climate system, the analysis of temperature and precipitation extremes in present and future climates, climate predictability and variability, seasonal prediction, and the quantification of uncertainties associated with global climate models’ predictions. His approaches have been adopted in the scientific activities and organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP). Zwiers is director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Meteorological Society. In 2016 he appeared on the Thompson-Reuters highly cited researchers list. In the IPCC he was co-leader on the Chapter of the Fourth Assessment Report that presented the evidence supporting the key IPCC assessment that most of the warming during the past 50 years is very likely due to human influences on the climate system.

Dr. Robert MoodyDr. Robert Moody (Mathematics & Statistics) is known to mathematicians around the world for his discovery of a class of affine Lie groups known today as Kac-Moody algebras, which were also independently found by Victor Kac. They are of huge importance in mathematics and theoretical physics, especially in conformal filed theory and the theory of exactly solvable models. In 1996, Moody and Kac were co-winners of the Wigner Medal, a top international award “designed to recognize outstanding contributions to physics through group theory.”  Moody was also the first Director of the Banff International Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS), an institute of top international reputation.