Prof Named to Royal Society of Canada

July 18, 2007 - News Release

Prof. Chris Whitfield, chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada is the country’s oldest and most prestigious scholarly organization, and fellowship in the society is considered Canada’s senior academic accolade. Scholars selected for the honour are those the society believes have had a profound impact on sciences and humanities in Canada.

"I am delighted and honoured to be elected a Fellow," said Whitfield, who is currently in Australia, where he has been invited to speak at some conferences. "Although this award recognizes the individual, now more than ever, science is a team sport. I have been fortunate to have supervised some outstanding students and post-docs, and we have benefited from an excellent network of collaborators and colleagues here and overseas. Each of them has made an important contribution to the body of work that has led to this fellowship, and I am grateful to them all."

Whitfield’s research focuses on the nature and assembly of bacterial surfaces. He is interested in fundamental research problems concerning the functions of bacteria, as well as exploiting this knowledge to identify new targets for therapies against bacterial infections.

The Royal Society cited Whitfield for his authority on the assembly of glycoconjugates (complex carbohydrates) on surfaces of pathogenic bacteria. It said his work has provided broad insight into how these large molecules move through bacterial cell walls and their potential as targets for antimicrobial therapy.

"Chris Whitfield is a remarkable role model for us all," said College of Biological Science dean Michael Emes. "He has won major teaching awards, carries an immense role in service as chair of one of the largest departments on campus, and now has received the highest recognition possible for his outstanding record in research. He embodies everything that is best about academic life and is a tremendous ambassador for the University in all that he does. It is a privilege to have him as a colleague."

Whitfield joined the University in 1984 as a faculty member in the then Department of Microbiology. He has held a CIHR Senior Investigator Award and was awarded one of the University’s first Canada Research Chairs in 2001. He has also received the CMS/Roche Award from the Canadian Society of Microbiologists and last year was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

"Chris Whitfield is well-deserving of this prestigious honour," said Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic). “He is a highly respected professor and researcher, and the entire University community is delighted he has been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada."

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1