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Dalhousie researcher Dr. Axel Becke receives one of Canada'™s most prestigious scholarly honours

Posted by Media Centre on April 18, 2016 in News

(HALIFAX, N.S.) - Dalhousie University is honoured to join the Canada Council for the Arts in celebrating Dr. Axel Becke, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Science, for his pioneering achievements in the field of computational science.

Dr. Becke has been awarded the council’s Killam Prize in the Natural Sciences, one of the most prestigious scholarly awards in Canada. The Killam Prize honours distinguished Canadian scholars and scientists actively engaged in research for outstanding career achievements. Five prizes of $100,000 are awarded annually in recognition of career achievements in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering and interdisciplinary studies within these fields.

“The Killam Trusts have been incredibly important to me throughout my career,” says Dr. Becke. “I’ve been a member of the Killam family of scholars since 1981, when I first arrived at Dalhousie as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow. So this Killam Prize is very special.”

From 2006 to 2015 Dr. Becke served as the Killam Chair in Computational Science at Dalhousie, and also held a Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship from 2005 to 2007. He is one of the most-cited scientists in the world, with over 110,000 citations to his name so far. The scientific journal Nature has ranked two of his papers among the world’s top 25 most-cited of all time.

“Dr. Becke’s prominent research has shifted the landscape of computational chemistry” says Dr. Martha Crago, vice-president research, Dalhousie University. “This is a significant honour and great recognition for Dr. Becke’s incredible achievements throughout his career.”

Dr. Becke’s enhancements to the density-functional theory (DFT) of the electronic structure of atoms, molecules, and materials have enormously expanded the theory’s computational applications, allowing researchers to model and predict chemical structures and reactions with far greater speed than non-DFT methods. This ability is instrumental in industries like pharmaceutical development and clean energy.

Dr. Becke has a long list of scholarly achievements. In 2015, he was awarded the $1-million Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, one of the highest Canadian awards in science and engineering, presented by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). He also received the 2015 Medal of the Chemical Institute of Canada, Canada’s top chemistry and chemical engineering award. In 2014 he was the first ever Canadian recipient of the American Chemical Society Award in Theoretical Chemistry, the top award for theoretical chemistry in the U.S. In 2015, Dr. Becke was also inducted into Nova Scotia’s Science Hall of Fame.

With this award, Becke becomes Dalhousie’s third Killam Prize recipient, following Brian K. Hall in 2005 and Susan Sherwin in 2006.

The Killam Prize presentation ceremony will be held at Rideau Hall on May 3, 2016.

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Media Contacts:
Lindsay Dowling
Media Relations Officer
Dalhousie University

Janet Bryson
Senior Communications Advisor
Dalhousie University



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