For its 5th birthday on April 29th 2009, the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales de l’Université de Montréal (CERIUM, http://www.cerium.ca/) , Centre for International Research and Studies at UdeM) awarded its first Internationalist of the Year award to Claude Carignan, professor at the Physics Department of the UdeM and faculty member of the CRAQ. This award is granted to a Québécois for his/her exceptional contribution, within the past five years, to the production of knowledge (or skills) in the international community, to the dissemination of Québec's knowledge, or to the establishment of gateways and links between Québec and other countries.The price was awarded to Claude Carignan during the ceremony of the 5th anniversary of the CERIUM, by a special guest, Lionel Jospin, the ex-prime minister of France (from June 1997 to May 2002). At this occasion, Lionel Jospin presented an allocution on the first lessons to draw from the current financial and economic crisis. The associate Dean of the graduate studies and external affairs of the Faculté des Arts et Science (FAS) of UdeM, Pr. Jane Jenson, first pointed out the outstanding research performance of Pr. Carignan with more than 140 scientific publications and his exceptional contribution to astrophysics in Québec and abroad as the director of the Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique du Québec (CRAQ) from 1998 to 2001, of the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic in 2002-2003 and as a member of the board of management of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) from 1998 to 2005.
The jury was especially impressed by his international implications, particularly in Africa. He presided the board of directors of the Quebec NGO Mobilisations Enfants du Monde (MEM : http://www.mem-international.org/) in 2005-2006, specializing in health mission in Africa, and developped an Astrophysics program at the Université de Ougadougou (UdeO) in Burkina Faso. For this last project, Pr. Carignan built, with the help of Luc Turbide, a member of the CRAQ, a teaching observatory (ODAUO : http://www.astro.univ-ouaga.org/) which was inaugurated on November 26th, 2007, by the prime minister of Burkina Faso, Tertius Zongo.
With the help of co-workers from Québec and elsewhere, Pr Carignan, now an associate professor at UdeO, committed to provide teaching for the next 4 or 5 years, the time needed to form 4 doctors in astrophysics from Burkina Faso, who will then take over the program at UdeO. The first undergraduate course was given in fall 2007 and the first graduate level course was given at the beginning of 2009. In order to provide students with the necessary tools for graduate research and a proper PhD formation, Pr. Carignan is currently organizing with colleagues at the Université de Provence à Marseille (France) the transportation of the Marly telescope from La Silla (Chile) to Burkina Faso. This 1-m telescope has a very good optical quality and will be equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation developed by the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique Expérimentale (LAE) of the CRAQ in Montréal and by the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille.
Finally, in order to emphasize on the birth of astrophysics in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pr. Carignan is organizing the 2010 Symposium of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Ougadougou with the theme: “Tracing the Ancestry of Galaxies on the Land of our Ancestors”. This conference should coincide with the inauguration of the first research telescope in Africa (excepted South Africa).
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