Keith Miles and a colleague, Donald May, are being presented this week with the Wallenberg Prize, the Nobel Prize for the global forest industry. As their families look on, they will receive a cheque for 2 million kronor -- about $360,000 -- from the king and queen of Sweden.
Allison is no slouch herself. She is a co-op student in actuarial mathematics at Concordia, which means that she was selected to alternate terms of work and study in her notoriously difficult field.
Contacted by phone before the family flew to Stockholm for the presentation, Mrs. Miles (Theresa Rabzel, LOY 71) said her husband was stunned to get the news last January, as he attended the local pulp and paper convention at Montreal's Palais de Congrès.
"He came home with this bouquet of flowers," she said, "and it turned out they were for him, not for me. We told the kids [Allison and sister Heidi], and at first, they just said, 'Oh, yeah, that's nice.' Then we said, 'And we're going to go to Sweden to accept it,' and that got their attention."
Miles and his colleague had worked since the 1970s on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of turning wood chips into fibre, and the breakthrough they achieved has yielded significant energy savings for pulp producers.
Miles graduated from McGill University and works for the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, in Pointe Claire. May, 72, is retired, but still teaches at the University of British Columbia.
The Nobel Prize they won is awarded by the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation of Sweden, and this is the fifth time Canadians have won it since 1981.