Stainton, Watt earn top honours
By Communications Staff
April 14, 2011
Robert Stainton and Stephen Watt have been awarded the Distinguished University Professorship Award for 2011, The University of Western Ontario’s highest recognition in academics.
This award acknowledges sustained excellence in scholarship over a career, taking into consideration the full breadth of academics including research, teaching and service to the community. The award includes a citation, the right to use the title, an opportunity to present a public lecture and $10,000 to support scholarly activity.
All are invited to attend the ceremony 4 p.m. Monday, April 25 in Conron Hall, Room 224 – University College. A reception follows.
Robert Stainton is one of the leading international figures in the new philosophy of language, combining traditional issues in philosophy of language with cutting-edge empirical work in the cognitive sciences. Beyond this main research area, Stainton has an impressive array of interdisciplinary areas of research including his pioneering works in the sub-field of the history of philosophy of language and contributions to clinical work on language dysfunction in autism.
In addition to his research accomplishments, Stainton is regarded for his innovative teaching style. He is an early-adopter of new technologies in the classroom, introducing WebCT while it was still in its beta stage. To create a relaxed atmosphere, he is notorious for employing lighthearted techniques such as playing an appropriate theme song before each lecture. Three times he has been recognized by Maclean’s magazine as one of Canada’s ‘Popular Professors.’
His flexibility and breadth of knowledge is highlighted by the fact he has taught 35 different courses in 17 years as a professor.
“Robert strikes a rare and admirable balance: He is a beloved and innovative teacher; he is an internationally renowned researcher, with a sustained history of extraordinary achievement and leadership; yet, at the same time, he has worked tirelessly and effectively in service at all levels,” says John Nicholas, associate professor in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
Widely regarded as Canada’s top figure in computer algebra, Stephen Watt has made foundational contributions internationally. He is known for evolving his field in the areas of computer algebra software systems, mathematical algorithms and mathematics on the Internet.
“In this subject Stephen is clearly the world leader. His work on multiple computer algebra systems, including Maple, Axiom and Aldor, puts him apart from anyone else,” says Sergei Abramov, chief researcher of the Dorodnicyn Computing Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Professor of Moscow State University.
Watt matches his leading research skills with an ability to create an outstanding classroom experience. “Students from Professor Watt’s courses uniformly say he is an exceptional classroom teacher, while students and postdocs he has supervised say he has transformed their lives,” says David Wardlaw, dean of the Faculty of Science.
Watt’s commitment to his subject area and teaching becomes even more impressive when you consider his ongoing contributions to the academic community. In addition to serving on and chairing many university committees, he also has served as department chair for computer science and created the Ontario Research Centre for Computer Algebra.
In addition to the Distinguished University Professorship Awards, the university has designated 12 Faculty Scholars for significant achievements in teaching or research. Those honoured include Tracy Isaacs, Kelly Olson and Matthew Rowlinson from Arts and Humanities; Goli Rezai-Rashti from Education; Trevor Birmingham and Susan Scollie from Health Sciences; Margaret Ann Wilkinson from Law; Ruth Wright from Music; Greg Gloor and Anthony Jevnikar from Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; Kristy Tiampo from Science; and Daniel Ansari from Social Science.
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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