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Two Guggenheim fellowships go to Arts & Science faculty

Historian Eric Jennings and astro-physicist Ray Jayawardhana. Photos: Sandra Rocha/JR Bernstein.

Historian Eric Jennings and astro-physicist Ray Jayawardhana. Photos: Sandra Rocha/JR Bernstein.

Accomplished historian Eric Jennings and astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana have both been awarded 2014 Guggenheim fellowships.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship awarded a total of 177 of these prestigious awards to mid-career academics and artists in the US and Canada for achievements and exceptional promise.

Jennings’s research focus is modern French colonial history (1830-1962) and his four books straddle the histories of France, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. The fellowship will enable him to examine the wartime escape of thousands of European refugees to Martinique between 1940 and 1942, and the myriad encounters that resulted. His study will shed light on the Second World War’s intellectual impact, in particular its substantive mark on anti-colonial dynamics, questions of rescue and exile, and issues of identity, in the unique context of Négritude and Martinique.

“My Guggenheim-supported project speaks to many contemporary concerns in history, including migration, cultural movements, resistance, encounter, and diaspora. Many of these issues obviously remain highly relevant today,” he said.

Jennings’s previous honours include a French knighthood; the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques was awarded to him by the government of France in 2011 in recognition of his exceptional work in researching, teaching and disseminating knowledge of the French culture around the world.

Jayawardhana, the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics, is internationally renowned for his leading research on exo-planets and brown dwarfs as well as his exceptional work promoting the sciences. Since 2012, he has been senior advisor to U of T’s president on science engagement, which has included organizing various science outreach events in partnership with local organizations and helping train other researchers to be effective spokespeople for science.

Jayawardhana’s writing has appeared in The Economist, New York Times, Boston Globe, Scientific American, Astronomy, Muse, and elsewhere, and he is the recipient of the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award. His most recent book is Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe.

“I’ve tried to pursue my passion for writing and my enthusiasm for astronomy more or less in parallel, so this recognition is particularly gratifying,” said Jayawardhana. “I’m humbled by the honour, grateful for the support, and excited about the opportunities it brings.”

The University of Toronto received a total of three Guggenheim fellowships this year, including one to Anver Emon of the Faculty of Law.