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  • Writer's pictureLenora Thomas

35 Years of Innovation: 1996 ASTech Winners

This post is in partnership with Technology Alberta and the ASTech Awards, celebrating the impact of 35 years of innovation in Alberta, tying our past to our present.


1996’s ASTech Awards highlighted organizations making inroads in innovation for oil & gas exploration and production, as well as scientific instrumentation, and supporting organizations that made (and are still making) contributions to our technology community.


The ASTech Awards introduced a special award of recognition for providing foundational and outstanding impact to Alberta for the Alberta Research Council (now Alberta Innovates). Established in 1921 as the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of Alberta (SIRCA), it had a mandate to support economic development through applications of science and engineering expertise, and in the process, to improve life in rural and urban Alberta. SIRCA's name was changed to Research Council of Alberta (RCA) in 1930, Alberta Research Council (ARC) in 1981, and then merged in 2010 with a number of research institutes before becoming Alberta Innovates In 2016. Alberta Innovates is integral in our tech ecosystem, supporting research and business growth.


Excellence in Science & Technology for Public Awareness winners, WISEST and the Calgary Science Network were recognized for leaving an indelible mark on science outreach and education. Since 1982, WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, and Technology) has been instrumental in promoting science and engineering, creating effective programs to empower women to pursue, impact, and succeed in the fields of science, engineering, and technology (STEM). WISEST's success is evident in its expansion and the high percentage of former participants who have pursued university education in science or engineering, underscoring its pivotal role in increasing resilience and shaping the future of young Albertans.


The Calgary Science Network (now the Alberta Science Network) is a charitable organization that has set a national standard for science outreach. For over 30 years, they have facilitated meaningful connections between scientists and students, benefiting over 100,000 students. Their signature program, Scientists & Engineers-in-the-Classroom, inspires students with face-to-face, hands-on science presentations.


In addition to these organizations, we would like to spotlight some of our 1996 Winners:


Visionary leader Dr. Martha C. Piper was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community. Dr. Piper served as Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and then Vice President, Research and External Affairs, University of Alberta. She led the promotion of research excellence to industry, government, and the public, emphasizing the economic and community impact. She successfully advocated for the Canada Research Chairs Program to recruit scientists and to encourage them to remain. Also a trusted government advisor, she has helped to bring about the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr Piper served as President of the University of British Columbia from 1997 to 2006 and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2004.


Winner for Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology Community, Dr. Thomas P. Keenan is renowned for his contributions spanning technology, education, and broadcasting. While serving as Dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education at the University of Calgary, his pioneering work in utilizing computer technology for education, exemplified by the university's Distance Learning Centre, contributed to his nomination as a member of the Government of Canada’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Smart Communities and to the board of the ICTC Council of Canada. Dr. Keenan is currently a professor at the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape.


Mathematician Dr. Robert V. Moody, winner of Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Science, stands as a pioneer through his co-discovery of the Kac-Moody algebras, fundamental in both mathematics and physical science. His work notably underpins superstring theory, a leading contender for the 'theory of everything'. He is a joint recipient of the Wigner Medal, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1989, he became full professor at the University of Alberta, and also served as Scientific Director of the Banff International Research Station.


Dr. Norman Dovichi is known for his pioneering work as a chemist who has led the work of scientific instrumentation. From his start as an emerging researcher at the University of Alberta, Dr. Dovichi led a team for 14 years researching and developing sensitive chemical microanalysis that translated to the development of instruments used in science and medicine. Today, Dr. Dovichi is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. Dr. Dovichi’s research team continues to work on the Human Genome Project to develop instruments that study proteins that comprise genes of tissues and cells.


Overall in 1996, there were 13 ASTech Award Winners, which you can dig into deeper on the ASTech Website: https://www.astech.ca/


Our thanks to Dr. Lisa Carter for her time in helping craft this blog!

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