Chemistry Hall of fame

Dr. David Upton Hill

B.A., University of New Brunswick, M.A, Ph.D., Yale University, D.Sc.(Hon), Acadia University

Dr. David Upton Hill may be justifiably regarded at the father of the Chemistry Department at Acadia. He accepted the position as Head of Chemistry at Acadia in 1917 and until 1926 was the entire department, teaching all the Chemistry courses offered by the University. After the First World War, class sizes increased dramatically and, in 1920, the first laboratory course in Physical Chemistry was added to Dr. Hill’s already very taxing work load. The demands on space with which Dr. Hill had to contend were also daunting when one recalls that until 1928 all the courses in Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Physics were taught in Carnegie Science Hall. Dr. Hill oversaw the gradual evolution of Acadia’s Chemistry Department with the appointment of Dr. Small in 1926, Dr. DeLong in 1928, Dr. Linton in 1936 and Dr. Hansen in 1956, the same year in which Dr. Hill retired.

Dr. Hill was arguably one of the most respected and appreciated faculty members at the University. His compassion and devotion to his students were legendary. He was also widely respected for his perseverance in politely but persistently working to obtain much needed facilities for his evolving Department of Chemistry. Long after his retirement, Dr. Hill maintained an active interest in Acadia, attending numerous functions at the University. As the entries in this Hall of Fame will indicate, his impact on the development of Chemists who went on to make important contributions in government, business and academia must rank near the top among the early heads of chemistry departments in Canada.

Dr. Charles B. Huggins ’20

B.A. Acadia University, M.D. (Harvard), M.Sc.(Hon) Yale, D.Sc.(Hon) Acadia, Washington, Leeds, Torino, LL.D.(Hon) Aberdeen, Nobel Prize 1966, Founder and Director, Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Chicago, more than 100 medals and awards.

Charles Huggins entered Acadia as a member of the famous “Class of 1921” which still holds the record for production of the largest proportion of distinguished Acadia Alumni. However, Dr. Huggins was so outstanding that he graduated a year early, in 1920. At that time, the Chemistry Department was in its infancy. Dr. Hill had just started his long career as Head of Chemistry at the same time as Dr. Huggins began his undergraduate program and only four or five Chemistry courses existed in the Department. Legend has it that Dr. Huggins took all of them and the original of one of his laboratory reports in what would at that time have been an advanced Chemistry course hangs on the wall in the Chemistry Department Office. On that basis, we have included Dr. Huggins as one of our first Chemistry Alumni, although at that time not only was there no B.Sc. degree but the boundaries between the currently recognized science disciplines were very blurred.

Dr. Huggins shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with virologist Peyton Rous for his work on the role of hormones in the development of prostate and breast cancer. The cancer treatments which he and his colleagues at the University of Chicago developed were based on a blend of Surgery, Physiology and a strong understanding of Biochemistry. Dr. Paul Talalay, director of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the Johns Hopkins University, noted in 1965 that the implications of Dr. Huggins’ discovery of the role of hormones in development of cancer “---heralded an era of rational chemotherapy of cancer”.  In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Huggins received more than 100 other medals and awards. Among his many memberships and fellowships in professional societies, some of particular note are Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Hon), Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (Hon).

Dr. Huggins served as a faculty member at the University of Chicago from 1927 until 1962. After his retirement, he served Acadia University as its Chancellor. He always referred to our University as “Acadia the Beautiful” and felt that we provided an unequalled undergraduate program for our students. At Chicago, he was responsible for the “Christmas Lectures” in which outstanding scientists were brought to the University of Chicago to discuss their work with some of the brightest high school students from the Chicago area. Later, he was responsible for initiating the High School Science Seminars at Acadia in which scientists from across Canada and the United States are brought to Acadia to discuss their leading edge research with a select group of high school students from across Nova Scotia. He was a firm believer in the broad benefits of research as an intellectual activity. A plaque above his desk read “Discovery is our business.”  His first love was research at the bench and he is quoted as having encouraged his colleagues “Don’t write books. Don’t teach hundreds of students. Discovery is our business. Make damn good discoveries.” He is also quoted as saying “Research has always been my pleasure as well as my job. There is nothing that matches the thrill of discovery.”

Dr. James M.R. Beveridge ’37

B.Sc. Honours (Chemistry), Acadia University, PhD (Biochemistry), University of Toronto, M.D. University of Western Ontario, D.Sc. (Hon) Acadia University, Queen’s University, LLD.(Hon), Mount Allison University, Officer of the Order of Canada

James Beveridge was born in Dumferline, Scotland, and grew up in Wolfville where his father was employed by Acadia University. After completing graduate work, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Western Ontario, subsequently becoming a faculty member in the Biochemistry Department at Queen’s University. At Queen’s, his administrative skill was recognized in his appointment as Head of the Department of Biochemistry and then as Dean of Graduate Studies. In 1964 he accepted an appointment as the 10th President of Acadia University where he served with distinction until his retirement.

Dr. Beveridge earned an international reputation for his research on the biochemistry of heart disease, among other significant contributions. He published more than 100 scientific papers and served on a number of science advisory boards including the Science Council of Canada. He was a member of more than ten professional societies, including the Royal Society of Canada, covering the disciplines of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nutrition and Medicine and made important scientific contributions in all these fields. As an administrator, he shepherded Acadia through one of its most prolific growth periods during which both the student body and the University’s physical infrastructure doubled. His service as a scientist and administrator was recognized by the award of three honorary degrees and the Order of Canada.

Dr. Charles A. Escoffery ’37

B.Sc. Honours (Chemistry), Acadia, Ph.D.(Physical Chemistry), Massachussetts Institute of Technology, D.Sc.(Hon), Acadia University

Charles Escoffery was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and graduated from Acadia with a B.Sc. degree in 1937. After completing graduate work at M.I.T., he worked in industry in the United States in what would now be called Materials Science. Among his industrial positions, he served as Director of Research and Development for the selenium division of the Federal Telephone and Radio Corporation, Senior Chemist for the International Rectifier Corporation, and Senior Manager, materials and process engineering, for the Hughes Aircraft Corporation.  Dr. Escoffery’s career exposed him to a remarkable evolution in the design and industrial use of materials. He made significant contributions in the development of materials and processes for vacuum tubes, ceramics, metallizers, oxide cathodes, potting and encapsulation materials, and microwave absorbers. In recognition of his substantial contributions in the development of industrial Materials Science, Dr. Escoffery was presented with the R.E. Templin Award of the A.S.T.M and an honorary D.Sc. from his alma mater, Acadia. He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, the American Ceramic Society, and the Society of Aerospace Materials and Process Engineers.

Dr. I. Maxwell Robinson ’40

B.Sc. (Chemistry) and B.Sc. Honours (Chemistry and Mathematics), Acadia University, M.A. (Chemistry), University of Toronto, Ph.D. (Chemistry), Purdue University, D.Sc.(Hon), Acadia University, Lavoisier Medal, DuPont

Maxwell Robinson was born in Lakeville, Nova Scotia where his father operated the general store. He accepted a position with DuPont on graduating from Purdue in 1949 and remained with that company until his retirement in 1981. While at DuPont, his work resulted in more than sixty patents, including those for such well-known products as Typar and Tyvek, Vespel, Kapton, and Lycra. His group at DuPont developed coordination catalysts which were used to produce a number of very important polymer materials including linear polyethylene and high molecular weight polypropylene. The work on these catalysts was proprietary with DuPont and could not enter the public domain. However, these are the same kind of catalyst as the Ziegler Natta catalysts for which Karl Ziegler and Giulio Natta, unrestricted by corporate confidentiality, shared the Nobel Prize. The impact of Dr. Robinson’s work can be easily appreciated when one notes that just three of the materials he invented provided the base for subsequent research that has generated more than 2000 additional patents, many dated in the 21st century. In 2000, the DuPont Corporation presented Dr. Robinson with its Lavoisier Medal, its highest mark of recognition, for his enormous impact on the economic progress of that company.

Dr. Arthur N. Bourns ’41

B.Sc. Honours (Chemistry), Acadia University, Ph.D. (Chemistry), McGill University, D.Sc.(Hon), Acadia University, University of Manitoba, McGill University, McMaster University, LLD., Brock University, Order of Canada,

Arthur Bourns was born in Petitcodiac, NB and was educated at Acadia University and McGill University. After teaching briefly at Acadia and at the University of Saskatchewan and working as a research chemist with the Dominion Rubber Company, he joined the faculty of McMaster University in 1947 where he served for 35 years. Dr. Bourns’ scientific specialty is physical organic chemistry and he earned international respect for his work in that area. However, he was at least as well recognized for his administrative skill, serving McMaster successively as Dean of Graduate Studies, Head of the Chemistry Department, Vice-President, Science and Engineering, and President. He is currently President Emeritus. He has also served as a scientific and educational advisor to a number of governments in positions such as Chair of the International Advisory Panel – Canada, United States, Britain – advising the Chinese government and university officials on the development of China’s universities. He has also served as a member of numerous committees of the National Research Council of Canada. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Chemical Society, and the Chemical Institute of Canada and received the Montreal Medal of the Chemical Institute of Canada, its highest honour. He is an honorary professor at China’s Jiangxi University, and has been awarded four honorary degrees.

Dr. Claude T. Bishop ’45

B.Sc. (Chemistry) and B.A., Acadia University, Ph.D. (Chemistry), McGill University, D. Sc.(Hon), University of Western Ontario.

Claude Bishop was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. After completing graduate study, he had a distinguished career in the Canadian Government. For many years, he was Editor in Chief of the research journals of the National Research Council of Canada. He also served as the Director of the Division of Biological Sciences of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa and as Secretary General of the National Research Council. His expertise in Biochemistry was recognized by the National Academy of Science of the United States in his appointment as Chair of the Committee on Specifications and Criteria for Biochemical Compounds. He made significant contributions in scientific research, publishing more than 85 papers in refereed journals. His accomplishments were recognized by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Kelvin K. Ogilvie ’63

B.Sc. Honours (Chemistry), Acadia University, Ph.D. (Chemistry), Northwestern University, Order of Canada, D.Sc.(Hon) Acadia University, University of New Brunswick, McGill University. 

Kelvin Ogilvie was born in Summerville, Nova Scotia. After completing graduate studies, he accepted a faculty position in Chemistry at the University of Manitoba and subsequently a faculty position in the Chemistry Department at McGill University. At McGill, he established an international reputation for his research in bio-organic chemistry and was appointed Director, Office of Biotechnology, and Canadian Pacific Professor of Biotechnology. In 1987, Dr. Ogilvie returned to his alma mater serving as Vice-President, President and Professor of Chemistry.

While at McGill, Dr. Ogilvie received international recognition for development of an automated process, often referred to as “the gene machine”, for manufacturing DNA, and for the invention of Ganciclovir, a drug that has had enormous impact in the treatment of infections such as AIDS that occur due to a weakened immune system. He also developed a general method for synthesis of RNA that is still the basis for RNA synthesis throughout the world. His flair for innovation continued as an administrator at Acadia where he is particularly recognized for establishment of “the Acadia Advantage” program, incorporating computer technology and information technology into all aspects of the undergraduate experience. This established Acadia as a leader in the educational use of information technology, achieving recognition by the Smithsonian Institution and earning several national and international awards.

Kelvin Ogilvie has served on a number of government advisory groups, among them the Atomic Energy Control Board, The National Biotechnology Advisory Committee, Genome Canada and the Council of Ministers Advisory Committee for On-Line Learning. His scientific, administrative, and advisory contributions have been recognized by three honorary degrees, a Steacie Fellowship, and a large number of awards including the Order of Canada, the Manning Principal Award and induction as an inaugural member of the Nova Scotia Discovery Centre Hall of Fame for Science and Technology. He holds 14 primary patents, has published at least 150 refereed papers, and his work has been cited by others more than 5000 times.

Dr. Cynthia M. Trudell ’74

B.Sc. (Chemistry), Acadia University, Ph.D. (Chemistry), University of Windsor, D.Sc. University of New Brunswick, Acadia University, Ryerson University and the University of Windsor.

Cynthia Trudell grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, and attended Acadia University and the University of Windsor. After completing graduate work, she was employed first by the Ford Motor Company and then by General Motors. In 1999, she was appointed President of the Saturn Motor Company becoming the first woman to head a United States auto company. She subsequently accepted an appointment as CEO of the Sea Ray Group and is currently Senior Vice-President and Chief Personnel Officer of PepsiCo. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Throughout her career, Dr. Trudell has been a staunch advocate of women in the corporate world. Her contributions have been recognized by the award of four honorary degrees.

Dr. Hermes Chan '88

You may be surprised to learn that Hermes Chan was to start his academic career as a business major at McMaster University. Fortunately he soon saw the light, transferring to the chemistry program at Acadia in 1985. Hermes Chan received a BSc from Acadia in 1988 and completed an honours upgrade in 1989 and an MSc in 1991 under supervision of Drs. Ernest Hayes and Robert White. He is the co-inventor of the first Bioluminescence Rapid Sperm Viability test for live stocks testing, and the principal inventor of MedMira’s patented rapid flow-through diagnostic technology platform. In 1993, Hermes Chan cofounded MedMira with his wife, Carlina Hui, another graduate of Acadia University,,out of an intense passion for science and the desire to create rapid, cost-effective diagnostic tests that improve global healthcare. Their patented rapid flow-through technology platform detects antibodies from HIV 1/2, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial agent associated with peptic ulcer disease and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, in less than three minutes from a single drop of blood, serum, or plasma.

He is the recipient of The Economist’s 2007 Bioscience Innovator of the Year Award and have served as the Economist’s panel judge since 2008, the 2004 Award for Research Excellence from the Nova Scotia Biotechnology and Life Sciences Industry Association, the Cardinal Health 2004 Rising Star Award, Acadia’s 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award, the Discovery Canada (Atlantic Division) 2003 Discovery Awards of Innovation for the invention of the world’s fastest rapid flow-through technology platform and for the invention of the in vitro diagnostic tests for the detection of antibodies for diseases such as HIV in human blood specimens.

Today, MedMira’s diagnostic solutions are internationally recognized for their quality, speed, and accuracy. Since MedMira’s inception in 1994, Hermes Chan has held progressively senior management roles, rising from Research Scientist to General Manager, Senior Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer. In 2006 Hermes Chan was appointed Chief Executive Officer of MedMira, returning to his business roots. Under Hermes Chan’s leadership, MedMira has received of a number of awards in recognition of its innovation and excellence in biotechnology, including the Canadian Manufacturer’s & Exporters 2012 New Technology Award for Atlantic Canada and a 2008 Tech Awards Laureate from the Tech Museum of Innovation for applying technology to benefit humanity and for sparking global change.

Dr. Abdullah K. Kirumira

As a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, Dr Abdullah (Abbey) K. Kirumira has been described as “the pioneer of Nova Scotia’s biotechnology sector.” Born in Uganda, Dr Kirumira graduated from Reading University (United Kingdom) and received a PhD in biotechnology from Murdoch University (Australia) where he was one of the university’s first doctoral candidates to specialize in Biotechnology.

Dr Kirumira started his career in medical biotechnology as a Senior Research Fellow in medical diagnostics at the University of Maryland (USA). During the early 1990s, Dr Kirumira and his family moved to Nova Scotia where he taught biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry at Acadia University and was the founding professor of medical biotechnology at the College of Pharmacy at Dalhousie University.

Dr Kirumira is the founder and CEO of BioMedica Diagnostics Inc., a medical biotechnology company and a leader in medical diagnostics. BioMedica’s QuikCoag™ product line of blood coagulation reagents and instrumentation is widely used for monitoring cardiovascular risk, thrombotic disease, cancer, pre-surgical screening, and routine clinical management of emergency, ambulatory and geriatric patients. Perhaps most importantly, Biomedica helps Dr Kirumira’s to realize his true passion—selling low cost diagnostic tools to small African hospitals. BioMedica’s “lab in a box” includes a collection of ten small, inexpensive, portable instruments that help doctors diagnose 95 common diseases. To keep costs down, the diagnostic kit includes some older generation but still useful instruments.

Dr Kirumira has received a number of national and international awards for his contributions to science and business. He is a recipient of the2011 Ernest Young Enterpreneur of the Year Finalist Award, 2010 Harry Jerome Technology Innovation Award for Affordable Medical Technologies, the World Economic Forum 2009 Technology Pioneer Award in Affordable Medical Diagnostics for Emerging Economics, the 2009 Planet Africa Award for Appropriate Technology, 2008 Jacques Whitford Award for Business Excellence, The Economist’s 2007 Innovation Award in the field of bioscience, the 2006 Acadia University President’s Award for Entrepreneurship, and the 2005 Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship for Recognizable Social and Economic Contributions.