New Science Chairs support marine, minerals and bio-chemistry research

Three professors in the Faculty of Science have been appointed to new chairs in minerals and the environment, biological chemistry, and the ocean environment.

Earth and Ocean Sciences Prof. Paul J. Harrison has been appointed to the Chair in the Ocean Environment and its Living Resources. Harrison is a biological oceanographer specializing in the ocean's primary productivity and its regulation by various environmental factors. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and past recipient of a UBC Killam Research Prize.

Research undertaken by the chair will lead to a better understanding of the factors governing ocean productivity and to an increased understanding of marine ecosystems and their biological, social and economic importance. Harrison's appointment to the chair will allow the department to appoint a junior faculty member in the area of ocean environment and its living resources.

The chair was created with the support of an anonymous donor and supplemented by donations from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, contributions from faculty, staff and friends of the Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences and a matching donation from the Province of British Columbia.

Earth and Ocean Sciences Prof. Les Smith has been appointed to the Cominco Chair in Minerals and the Environment. Smith is recognized internationally for his research in hydrogeology. He has received numerous awards for his work including an NSERC EWR Steacie Fellowship for outstanding contributions in geological science and a UBC Killam Research Prize. Smith's appointment will also allow the department to recruit a junior faculty member in the area of minerals and environment.

Chemistry and Biochemistry Prof. Stephen Withers has received a five-year appointment to the Gobind Khorana Chair in Biological Chemistry.

Wither's research focuses on the area of enzyme mechanisms, and particularly enzymes which break down polysaccharides -- sugar polymers such as cellulose or starch. Part of his research, including work on the degradation of cellulose, has been in association with the Protein Engineering Network, one of the Networks of Centres of Excellence. Wither is a recent recipient of the Chemical Institute of Canada's Hoffman-Laroche Award.