2008 Medal Winners | francais

The 2008 CAP-COMP Peter Kirkby Memorial Medal for Outstanding Service to Canadian Physics

is awarded to

Peter Calamai

"When I squeaked out of McMaster University four decades ago with a B.Sc. in physics, it was beyond my wildest dreams that some day I might be so handsomely honoured by real physicists. I'll still be pinching myself on June 10." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) and the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (COMP) are pleased to announce that the 2008 CAP-COMP Peter Kirkby Memorial Medal for Outstanding Service to Canadian Physics is awarded to Peter Calamai, The Toronto Star, in recognition of for his exemplary communication of science to the public, for his dedication to the promotion of science through the media, and for his advocacy for science in Canada. announcement

Peter Calamai, who is honoured tonight with the CAP’s Kirkby Medal, is a true friend of physics. Although I can imagine the feelings of betrayal that his first mentors may have felt, and that I would probably also have felt, when Peter decided to use his physics training in journalism, rather than physics research, we must all be grateful that his vision and judgment were strong and determined. We recognize tonight that he was right in his choice.

Peter’s science reporting is magisterial, both for the public and for the scientists with whom he interacts. He has taught us, the scientists, the importance of understanding that science journalism is journalism first, and that scientists must be prepared to learn communication skills in dealing with the public, skills that are distinct, in important ways, from those learned in communicating with scientific peers. Peter has also succeeded in communicating science to the public in exemplary fashion. He is one of the very few science journalists employed in the newspapers of Canada (even of North America) and he is, in my judgment, the best!

Peter’s advocacy for the scientific enterprise in Canada, and for those who toil in it, has been of immeasurable importance. His influence is felt strongly in our Parliament and his sage advice is sought out by scientific societies wishing to communicate with parliamentarians.

Peter Calamai was, until his retirement this year, the national science reporter based in Ottawa for The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper. He is a founder of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association and past member of advisory boards to Environment Canada and NSERC. He serves on the board of the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.

Peter graduated from McMaster University in 1965 with a B.Sc. in Physics and worked as correspondent and editor with the Southam newspaper company for 30 years. He is a three-time winner of the National Newspaper Award, Canada's highest print journalism honour, and is an Adjunct Research Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of Carleton University.

Peter’s spare-time quasi-scientific pursuits include conchology (shell collecting) with specialization in the cowry (Cyprae), ornithology, astronomy and the genetic engineering of tomatoes. His pseudo-scientific studies revolve around Sherlock Holmes. He has published several new Holmes adventures.

There could be no better choice for the Kirkby Medal than Peter Calamai, and it is we who are honoured to have him in our company tonight. nominator citation

Peter Calamai will receive the 2008 CAP-COMP Peter Kirkby Memorial Medal for Outstanding Service to Canadian Physics during the CAP's awards banquet to be held at on 0000-00-00.

- 30 -