Professor Randy Allen Harris named Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Congratulations to Randy Allen Harris, professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, who has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). Dr. Harris is part of a cohort of distinguished Canadians who have made remarkable contributions in the arts, the humanities and the sciences, as well as in Canadian public life.

Randy Allen Harris
The RSC citation states: Randy Allen Harris is a scholar at the intersections of rhetoric, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Waterloo, where he is a Professor of English Language and Literature and Director of the multisectoral, multinational, multidisciplinary research project, the Rhetoricon Database. His books include The Linguistics Wars ("outstanding"—Nature), Rhetoric and Incommensurability ("a real tour de force"— International Studies in the Philosophy of Science), and the pathbreaking Voice Interaction Design (“supremely practical”— ACM Books). 

About receiving the RSC Fellowship, Dr. Harris writes:

"Honours are lovely to get, and election to the Royal Society of Canada is amongst the highest I could hope to achieve. But of course, getting such honours are massively dependent on where you work and even more on whom you work with, so the only appropriate response is to offer a grateful catalogue of the supporters and colleagues (among whom I include students) I have had the endless good fortune to join forces with at UW.

"I have been blessed with a wealth of challenging and inspiring students at all levels, but the prolonged involvement of theses and dissertations makes my graduate and honours students especially stand out.

"The English department, with its wonderful chairs and officers over the years, has been uniformly supportive and frequently enthusiastic about my teaching and research. The Faculty of Arts and the university have thrown their weight and resources behind every initiative I have undertaken. Of the various bodies around campus, the Office of Research and the Games Institute have been invaluable for my work.

"So far as naming some actual human agents, I will confine myself to only a few of the people who have been integral to the most recent phase of my research: Paul Thagard and Chrysanne Di Marco, both retired now, helped set me on the path to my computational and neurocognitive research; among students, Katherine Tu, Yetian Wang, and Danielle Jodway, have been instrumental to the technical and intellectual directions that work has taken; and swatting ideas around with Ken Hirschkop is a delight. I would also like to single out Doug Wright, former President of UWaterloo who passed away early on in the pandemic. He contributed so much to the university at the largest scales that I want to highlight something about him at a tinier scale. His curious, probing, energizing twenty-minute phone call with me in the early two-thousands led to a four-year research trajectory that resulted in my Voice Interaction Design." 

Read more about Dr. Harris’ publications and research impact.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences, and The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. This year, 102 new Fellows have been elected by their peers for their outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement. Recognition by the RSC is the highest honour an individual can achieve in the Arts, Social Sciences and Sciences.