Owen UnderhillOwen Underhill
Patricia MooneyPatricia Mooney


SFU profs named Royal Society fellows

September 06, 2013

Musical director/composer Owen Underhill and physicist Patricia Mooney are Simon Fraser University’s latest Royal Society of Canada (RSC) fellows.

The two professors will be inducted into the society Nov. 16 during a ceremony in Banff.

SFU now has 43 faculty members who are fellows of the distinguished body of Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists—the country's highest academic honour.

“I was delighted to get the news,” says Underhill, a professor with SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts for more than 30 years as well as an internationally respected composer and conductor and an influential cultural organizer. “Perhaps it will put me in a leadership position of being able to advocate for the arts within Canada, particularly in relation to Canadian universities.”

“It’s certainly an honour and recognition for both me and the university,” says Mooney, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in semiconductor physics and a leader in the fields of materials physics and semiconductor characterization. “And one hopes it will add some gravitas when advocating for research in Canada and applying for funding.”

Underhill has composed more than 70 works and conducted 175 premiere performances. He has been a leading force in shaping contemporary music culture on the West Coast as artistic director/programmer with Vancouver New Music and the Turning Point Ensemble.

Underhill’s accolades include first prize in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Canadian Composers Competition (1994, Lines of Memory); SFU’s Dean of Arts medal for academic excellence (2001); a Juno nomination for best classical composition (2002, Love Songs); and an outstanding classical composition award from the Western Canadian Music Awards (2007, Canzone di Petra).

In 2009, he was named an ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre.

Mooney’s technologically advanced experimental methods and remarkable studies of semiconductor defects have provided new insight into their fundamental properties and led to the commercialization of important new information technologies.

Prior to joining SFU in 2005, she was a researcher for 25 years at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., earning outstanding technical achievement awards in 1989 and 1995. She is the author of 191 publications and has 18 issued patents.

In addition to the RSC, Mooney is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Materials Research Society.

She has also been a highly visible role model in international conference organization and in professional society governance.

SFU Vice-President, Research Mario Pinto notes that Royal Society of Canada fellowships hold special significance, because peers select those who stand out as exceptional from within their ranks.

“This year’s fellows from SFU are illustrative of the depth and breadth of research activity at SFU, with Owen being elected to the Academy of Arts and Humanities for musicology and Pat to the Academy of Science for physics. I am thrilled that they have received this well-deserved recognition as leaders within their respective fields.”