Robert W. Besant
Distinguished Researcher Award - Spring 1999
The Distinguished Researcher Award recognizes a faculty member's contribution to scholarship through the creation, expansion and critique of knowledge through research and publication. The University has selected Robert W. Besant, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as the Spring 1999 recipient of this award.
Professor Besant holds a Bachelor of Science (1957) from the University of Manitoba and a Master of Science in Engineering from Princeton University (1959). He joined the U of S faculty in 1960. He became head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1982 and served for 11 years. Professor Besant has had a significant influence on building science standards and engineering world-wide. His research on heat transfer in building components has led to computer design codes used by the heating and ventilating industry.
Professor Besant's research into energy conservation has had a tremendous impact on housing in Canada. In 1977, his research led to the first cost-effective, energy-efficient house in North America. The federal government's R2000 home energy-efficiency program, launched in 1982, was based on Besant's design and construction concepts. That program has resulted in fundamental changes in the way houses are designed and built in Canada and many other countries. Professor Besant led the research team that developed the first heat-recovery ventilator designed specifically for energy-efficient ventilation of houses and other small buildings. This work has led to the establishment of two Saskatchewan companies which together employ nearly 200 people. He is currently working on improving ventilation and energy efficiency in large commercial buildings, as well as improved refrigeration systems and potash quality control.
Professor Besant's contributions to passive solar design and energy efficient design were recognized in 1992 when he was named "Solar Person of the Year" by the Solar Energy Society of Canada. In 1993, he was named a Fellow of ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers). He has also been named "Engineer of the Year" by the Saskatoon Engineering Society (1991) and honored with an Award of Merit by the Canadian Housing Design Council (1982).
His expertise has been sought after as a member of research granting agency committees, technical societies and government agencies including NSERC (Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada), Canada Mortgage and Housing Commission, Canadian Government Standards Board, and the Canadian Standards Association. He was selected as a founding member of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Energy Conservation and Development Authority which was responsible for recommending energy supply options for the province.
Professor Besant has published more than 70 refereed journal papers, more than 140 conference papers, and many technical reports. In addition, he has given many seminar presentations and invited talks. His research has attracted substantial financial support and he is the co-author of two patents. More than 50 graduate students have completed degrees under his supervision. He involves his students in all aspects of research, including publication of results.
Professor Besant has been an outstanding researcher throughout his almost 40-year career. His research, often leading-edge and pioneering, is internationally and locally respected. He is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award.