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Dr. Mary Anne White – Honorary Member of the NSIS

Photo Credit:  Miloš Tošić Photo Works, Vancouver, BC

In 2016, after being a long-time member of the NSIS, and NSIS Vice-President (1993-1994) and President (1994-1995), Professor White was made an Honorary Member.  This recognizes her conspicuous service to the advancement of science in Nova Scotia, Canada, and the world, as well as being a true role model for women in science.  She is an Officer in the Order of Canada. 

Mary Anne White received her B.Sc. in Honors Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada) and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada).  She held an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford University, and then was an NSERC University Research Fellow/Assistant Professor at University of Waterloo.  In 1983 she moved to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she was Professor of Chemistry and Physics until 2016. From 2002 to 2008, she was Director of the Institute for Research in Materials. She is now Harry Shirreff Professor of Chemical Research (Emerita). 

Her research interests centre on thermal properties of materials, especially where dynamical disorder is involved.  This includes thermal stability, phase transitions, thermal conductivity and thermal expansion, ranging from fundamental approaches to applications as diverse as thermal energy storage materials, thermoelectrics, and thermochromic materials.  She is an author of more than 200 papers and also a textbook, “Physical Properties of Materials” (now in its 3rd edition).  She has led research projects totalling more than $17 million.

Dr. White is Canada’s leading expert on how various materials physically react to heat. Notably, she contributed to the understanding of materials that change colour based on their temperature, a breakthrough that is now used in commercial products.

She has been much involved with bringing science to the general public, and she has been a strong role model to aspiring young scientists, in particular to young women.  Dr. White was one of the leaders in the creation of Halifax’s Discovery Centre, and is often heard on CBC radio, including as a frequent contributor to “Quirks and Quarks.” Professor White has received numerous awards from Dalhousie for both her teaching and research, and honorary degrees from McMaster University, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Ottawa.  She has been elected a Fellow of several prestigious societies, including the Royal Society of Canada, IUPAC and the Chemical Institute of Canada, and received numerous national and international awards.  In 2016 she was appointed an Officer in the Order of Canada.  A full summary of awards and distinctions is listed on the Dalhousie website, Thermal Properties of Materials –