Although their research interests vary widely — from Imperial Rome to the inside of a living cell is a fair stretch — it was a common attribute that united Duncan Fishwick and Neil Madsen under the spotlight on March 20.
The excellence which has characterized their pursuit of knowledge in their chosen fields earned Professors Fishwick and Madsen the 1985 Research Prizes of the University of Alberta, and at the March 20 presentation ceremonies they shared some of their knowledge - and enthusiasm. Dr. Fishwick spoke about "The Roman Imperial Cult," and Dr. Madsen delivered a lecture entitled "For the Love of an Enzyme."
"A fascinating mixture of subjects once again," says J. Gordin Kaplan, the University's vice-president (research) and the initiator of the prizes, which have previously been awarded to Leslie Green and Raymond Lemieux (1982), Norman Page and Werner Israel (1983), and Gerhard Krapf and Norbert Morgenstern (1984).
The research prizes were created to "make truly outstanding research and scholarship visible outside as well as internally," explains Dr. Kaplan.
And according to the vice-president (research), the research prizes jury again faced difficult decisions because of the number of exceptionally well-qualified candidates. Each year two prizes are awarded; one recognizes outstanding work in the general area of the humanities and social sciences, and the other, the sciences and engineering. The jury accepts one nominee from each University faculty, except Arts, which is permitted two nominees because it has departments that can compete for either prize.
The jury consists of the convenors of seven specialty working groups of the University Research Awards committee, one representative from the Graduate Students' Association, and two "outstanding" individuals from the community at large — this year Glen Buick from Alberta Culture and Alan Vanterpool of the Alberta Research Council.
Dr. Madsen, this year's winner in the general sciences and engineering category, is an alumnus of the University, having earned a BSc(Ag) degree in 1950 and an MSc in 1952. He later studied with Nobel laureate Carl Cori at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in a lab world famous for the study of enzymes — catalysts in the chemical reactions upon which life depends.
With Cori, Dr. Madsen developed into an accomplished enzymologist. "You have to see how it's actually done, you can't get that from reading or working in isolation," he says.
After leaving St. Louis, Dr. Madsen spent a year in the Oxford laboratory of Sir Hans Krebs and then worked as a microbiologist with Canada Agriculture for five years before joining the University of Alberta's department of biochemistry in 1962.
At the University, he has continued his investigations of enzymes. One of his major discoveries was the structure of the enzyme phosphorylase, of which he has produced a detailed three-dimensional map — this is still the largest enzyme to have been so described.
Dr. Fishwick, the 1985 winner in the humanities and social sciences category, was educated in Britain and taught at McGill University, the University of Toronto and St. Francis Xavier University before coming to the U of A classics department in 1971.
Dr. Fishwick has long had an interest in Roman history, particularly the local history of western provinces in the Roman empire, and his major research interest is the imperial cult, which centred on the person of the emperor, elevating him to near-divine status. It, says the classics professor, did more than the Roman army to perpetuate the greatness of the empire, promoting loyalty to Rome throughout the vast empire.
In the absence of extensive literary evidence relating to the imperial cult, Dr. Fishwick works largely with coins, inscriptions, and iconographical fragments from temples, altars, amphitheatres, and so on. Much of his work has been based at the Spanish town of Tarraco, an important centre for the emperor cult in the Latin west.
Dr. Fahwick is now working on the fourth volume of The Imperial Cult in the Latin West, a five-volume project which may well prove to be the definitive work on the subject.
Both Dr. Fishwick and Dr. Madsen are fellows of the Royal Society of Canada.
Published Summer 1985.