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Honorary degree citation - Barrie J. Frost

By: Peter Shizgal, June 2000

neuroscience and psychology.

Barrie Frost originally trained as a primary school teacher and obtained his BA and Master's degrees from the University of Canterbury in his native New Zealand. His doctoral work brought him to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he held the Rutherford Scholarship from the Royal Society of London. Following his post-doctoral fellowship in the department of Physiology-Anatomy at the University of California at Berkeley, he moved to Queen's University in Kingston. For the past 30 years he has taught there in the departments of Psychology, Biology and Physiology.

Dr. Frost has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of vision, hearing and the brain mechanisms underlying their functioning. His work is interdisciplinary and highly integrative. It incorporates a psychologist's grasp of perceptual principles, a neurophysiologist's expertise in recording neural signals and analyzing brain circuitry, an ethologist's sense of adaptation to the natural environment and an engineer's feel for the design of information processing and real-time control systems.

Dr. Frost's visual neuroscience research has focused on how motion is processed in the brain and, in particular, how motion of objects is distinguished from motion of the image produced by the eye, head and body movement. He and his colleagues have also studied mechanisms for sound localization, auditory figure/ground segregation, and similarities between stereophonic hearing and stereopsis or 3D vision.

He has also worked on applied projects such as developing a miniaturized artificial ear for the profoundly deaf, an electronic device that presents sounds to the skin and allows the deaf to recognize environmental sounds, understand speech, and improve their own speech production. Dr. Frost is currently developing Multisensory Virtual Realities and simulators for both scientific, educational and industrial purposes.

His other research projects have included studies to help Parkinson's patients move, studies of low frequency hearing in birds, and studies of human visual processing. These programs have been supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Medical Research Council of Canada, Health and Welfare Canada and the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems National Centre of Excellence.

Professor Frost has also played an important role in the formulation and implementation of Canadian science policy. He served as group chair at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of, Canada and was a member of many of its grant and scholarship selection committees. He is a member of the research council of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the task force for establishing its Human Development Program.

Dr. Frost has over a hundred scientific publications to his credit, which have appeared in top disciplinary and interdisciplinary journals, and has presented hundreds of papers and invited talks around the world. He has collaborated with fellow scholars at many universities and research centres in Canada and around the world. In 1998, he delivered a public lecture at Concordia in a series sponsored by the Science College. He has also participated in colloquia at the Department of Psychology and served as an external evaluator for the Science College. He is also an honorary professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, and the Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in the People's Republic of China.

Numerous awards and distinctions have been conferred on Professor Frost in recognition of his contributions to scholarship and teaching. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and is currently Max Bell Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He has won the Alexander Von Humboldt Forschungspreis, the Queen's University Prize for Excellence in Research and the Queen's Alumni Prize for Teaching.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, Dr. Barrie J. Frost, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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