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Past Winner
1998 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship

Michael Ward


The University of British Columbia

Dr. Thomas A. Brzustowski, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), today announced that UBC mathematics professor Dr. Michael Ward has been awarded one of the country's top research awards - a 1998 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship.

"Dr. Ward is leading an international renaissance in applied mathematics, a field that is growing in importance because it provides hard numerical answers for difficult problems in science, engineering and industry," said Dr. Brzustowski. Dr. Ward has explored this field in remarkable depth, analyzing and developing new models that are being used in areas such as materials science, biology, combustion, fluid mechanics and predicting the performance of semiconductor devices. "His ability to see the mathematical structure of real world problems, to conceive solutions and to inspire others by his approach is truly remarkable."

In adding his congratulations, Dr. Ron Duhamel, Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development), said, "Dr. Ward's exceptional research, along with that of other young university researchers like him, creates a better future for all Canadians. Research and innovation are key to leading Canada into the new millenium."

While Dr. Ward has made his mark internationally in classical applied mathematics and particularly in asymptotic analysis, he has also made major theoretical advances in the theory of metastability. Metastable processes influence outcomes in many physical systems, but they are the turtles of the phemenological universe, taking so long to develop that they are impossible to track numerically. Dr. Ward's methods for analyzing them have evolved into a new mathematical technique in wide use.

With his Steacie Fellowship, he plans to investigate other classes of very practical diffusion problems including pattern formation problems in biological modeling, the vibrations of thin plates in which part of the plate has been cut out, changes in chemical reactions that occur around a defect on a reacting surface, the formation of hot spots in heated ceramics, and the diffusion of oxygen through small capillaries to muscle cells. While different phenomena, for Dr. Ward they all share a common mathematical thread, and are promising ground for creative study.

The NSERC fellowship is one of only four awarded each year. The honour is given to university researchers who are capturing international attention for outstanding scientific or engineering achievement. Under the terms of the fellowship, NSERC will provide the University of British Columbia with the full amount of Dr. Ward's salary for up to two years. The fellowship will free him to pursue his innovative research full-time, as well as obtain significant new research funding from NSERC.

The three other 1998 Steacie fellows are Sara Iverson, Dept. of Biology, Dalhousie University; Jonathan Schaeffer, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta; and Louis Taillefer, Dept. of Physics, McGill University.

The E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships will be presented by His Excellency The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada, in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, on April 27.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is the national instrument for making strategic investments in Canada's capability in science and technology. NSERC supports both basic university research through research grants and project research through partnerships of universities with industry. NSERC also supports the advanced training of highly qualified people in both areas.