Communications Advances Recognized with Killam Prize

April 19th, 2011 · No Comments · Astronomy, Computing, Engineering, Environment and Geography, Geological Sciences, Health, Medicine, News Release, Research, Science, physics

When television journalists broadcast live from war zones or inside hurricanes, many use satellite-phone systems with compact antennas to send live images and reports back to the news desk. This technology was developed by Lotfallah Shafai, Canada Research Chair in Applied Electromagnetics. His wave-breaking technologies have made Canada a world leader in the research and development of communications technology and remote sensing.

In recognition of these accomplishments, Shafai has been chosen to receive the 2011 Killam Prize in Engineering. The Canada Council for the Arts made the announcement today at a news conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“The University of Manitoba is proud of this recognition of Dr. Shafai’s contribution to the field of electromagnetic communications,” said David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba.

The Killam Program offers five awards every year to outstanding Canadian scholars working in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering. The $100,000 Killam prize is among Canada’s most distinguished research awards. Recipients are chosen by a committee of 15 eminent Canadian scholars appointed by the Canada Council.

“The Trustees of the Killam Trusts are delighted with the selection of these five eminent Killam Prize winners. In establishing the trusts, Dorothy J. Killam said her purpose was ‘to increase the scientific and scholastic attainments of Canadians,’ and ‘to develop and expand the work of Canadian universities,’” said Killam Trusts managing trustee George Cooper.

“The announcement today of these world class scholars and researchers ensures that Mrs. Killam’s objective continues to be amply fulfilled.”

Technologies that have benefitted from Shafai’s research include not only wireless and satellite communications but also remote sensing, radar metrology, radio astronomy, medical diagnostics and most recently, electromagnetic mapping of Arctic sea ice. He has furthered the science of antenna engineering by viewing antennas as electromagnetic devices. His early accomplishments included miniaturizing satellite ground terminals: reducing them from several metres in size to less than a meter. His sixty-centimeter ground station terminal design was used for the Canadian Hermes satellite in the late 70s.

In addition to the Killam Prize, Shafai has received more than 34 other awards and honours throughout his career. He has published over 750 papers, written 93 research reports and holds 13 patents.

He is also only the second Killam Prize recipient to hail from the University of Manitoba. In 2008, Frank Hawthorne received the Killam Prize in Natural Sciences for his research on crystal structures and the crystal chemistry of complex minerals, leading to advances in environmental mineralogy and the disposal of high-level wastes.

An image of Dr. Shafai is available for download from the Canada Council image gallery at

For further information on Dr. Shafai go to

Full biographical details are available on the Killam Prize website at http://canadacouncil/prizes/killam/od129472615878099435.htm

For more information, please contact Janine Harasymchuk, research communications & marketing manager, University of Manitoba, 204-474-7300

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