Chemical engineering professor’s paper becomes part of a tribute to Marie Curie

    Janet Elliott’s work was selected to celebrate the anniversary of the French-Polish scientist’s birth and the women researchers she inspired

    By Richard Cairney on November 8, 2017

    (Edmonton) Happy birthday, Dr. Curie. A research paper written by University of Alberta engineering professor Janet Elliott and three of her students has become part of a retrospect marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Marie Curie—and a moving tribute to the women who have contributed to the scientific journal ever since.

    The Journal of Physical Chemistry produced the special online edition.

    “This issue honors [sic] Curie herself and the countless other women who have been contributing to JPC for over 115 years,” deputy editor Joan-Emma Shea said, in an e-mail to Elliott. “One of your JPC papers is included in this collection, which highlights the work of 66 women who have published in our journal over the past 35 years.”

    An editorial in the journal explains that Curie, a physicist and chemist who made key discoveries about radioactivity and eventually won two Nobel Prizes, was the first female author in JPC. Countless others have followed.

    “Curie died when she was 66 years old, so we have decided to focus on contributions from 66 women in this issue, specifically those who have played an important role both through their publications in JPC and in other JPC-related capacities,” the editorial states.

    Elliott is an internationally recognized expert in cryobiology—the science of preserving tissues and organs for transplant. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Thermodynamics. She teaches in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and collaborates closely with researchers in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, jointly supervising graduate students and research projects.

    She was elated with the news.

    "This was a complete surprise to me. I feel absolutely honoured to have my paper included in this issue,” she said. “I’m feeling overwhelmed.”

    JPC chose a 2007 paper by Elliott and her long-time research collaborator Dr. Locksley McGann, from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Other researchers sharing authorship are Kathy Porter, then an engineering undergraduate student working with Elliott. Two other co-authors are U of A alumnae Heidi Elmoazzen, who graduated from science in 1997, and Richelle Prickett, who graduated from chemical engineering in 2003. Both completed MSc and PhD programs under the supervision of Elliott and McGann.

    Elliott has supervised or co-supervised 54 undergraduate research projects, 15 MSc and nine PhD students, nine postdoctoral fellows and 10 others, including research associates and technicians.