Physicist Neil Turok to Receive Honorary Doctorate from U of G

February 13, 2013 - News Release

A renowned physicist, director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute, and champion of access to advanced education for young people in Africa will be honoured by the University of Guelph during winter convocation, which runs Feb. 19 to 21 in War Memorial Hall.

Neil Turok will receive an honorary doctorate and give the convocation address Feb. 20 during the 4 p.m. ceremony for the College of Biological Science and the College of Physical and Engineering Science.

As director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., Turok leads research, training, and educational outreach activities while pursuing his own research in theoretical physics and cosmology. Turok developed two of the main competing paradigms for the origin of the universe, open inflation, developed with Stephen Hawking, and the cyclic universe scenario, developed with Paul Steinhardt. These theories are now being subjected to a number of observational tests.

Born in South Africa, Turok established the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), in Cape Town in 2003. AIMS has since graduated more than 400 students from 35 African countries who have continued to successful scientific and technical careers. Turok’s vision to transform high-level education in Africa has grown into the AIMS Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) a plan for a network of AIMS centres of excellence across the continent. AIMS-NEI has won major backing from the governments of South Africa, Senegal, Ghana and Cameroon, international partners including Canada, Germany and the UK, and global companies such as Google and Blackberry.

During his youth, Turok saw first-hand how in spite of the urgent need for technical and scientific expertise in Africa, a great pool of talent was wasted through lack of opportunity. Turok earned his PhD from Imperial College London and worked in Chicago and Princeton before being appointed Chair of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge in 1997. There, he initiated AIMS, with the goal of helping young people in Africa to change their lives and the continent. He became Director of the Perimeter Institute in 2008.

Also during convocation, retired English professor Thomas King will be named professor emeritus to recognize his 20 years of service at U of G and his achievements as a well-known contemporary native writer.

King will be honoured Feb. 19 during a 7 p.m. ceremony for the College of Arts and the College of Management and Economics.

A member of the Order of Canada, King has won numerous prizes and awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Trillium Book Award and the Canadian Authors Award.

He has written more than 170 scholarly articles and dissertations. Many of his writings, including A Coyote Columbus Story, Green Grass, Running Water, and Truth and Bright Water, are widely used in literature, native studies, history and other courses. He is currently on tour promoting his latest book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

A complete schedule of convocation ceremonies is available online at uoguelph.ca/convocation.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or kgonsalves@uoguelph.ca.

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