UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 05 | Mar. 8, 2001

Researchers among latest stars to shine

I am very pleased to introduce to the campus community the first UBC recipients of the Canada Research Chairs Program. As you will see, these individuals represent research excellence in health, natural sciences, technology, social sciences and humanities.

UBC placed among the top three universities in Canada in the inaugural appointment of these funded research positions with 19 chairs allotted of the first 199 offered. Gaining more than 10 per cent of available chairs is a real endorsement of UBC's ability to bring the best and brightest minds together. The appointments are the first installment of 163 such positions to be named at UBC over the next five years.

The CRC program offers exciting opportunities to attract and keep top-level investigators from across Canada and internationally.

With this new investment, our capacity for generating new knowledge and transferring this knowledge to students, to society and to commercial enterprises is enormously strengthened.

I congratulate all the recipients, their research teams and those who provided academic and administrative support to enable their success.

I would also like to formally acknowledge the contribution of our president, Martha Piper, for her role in the creation of this program by the federal government that will ultimately help to sustain and improve our quality of life.

Prof. Indira Samarasekera

Vice-President, Research

First round sees 19 chairs appointed

Designed to build Canada's research capacity, the Canada Research Chairs program will invest $900 million over five years to establish 2,000 chairs in Canadian universities, their affiliated research institutes and hospitals. Appointment of the chairs is based on nominations from the universities.

Economics prof. Paul Beaudry studies comparisons of economic change to help inform social and economic policy. He explores North American and European experiences surrounding issues such as plummeting incomes for less skilled workers, impact of burdensome student loans and gender equality in the workplace. Izak Benbasat, a professor of Commerce and Business Administration, looks at the design of human-computer interfaces and seeks to improve the communication between information technologies and users. His work has relevance for e-commerce and building better business-customer communication.

Prof. John R. Grace of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Dept., investigates two crucial environmental issues: the emission of gases that cause acid rain and the overproduction of greenhouse gases. His work will contribute to preventing climate change and, improving Canada's energy sustainability and aid in the search for cleaner energy sources.

Babak Hamidzadeh, an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, explores ways to improve production, storage, search and retrieval, transmission, synchronization, and presentation of segments that interact in multimedia systems. He will work in collaboration with researchers in UBC's Microelectronics and Information Technology cluster.

Robert E.W. Hancock is a professor of Microbiology and Immunology who specializes in antibiotic resistance and combating life-threatening superbugs. He examines the way groups of amino acids called peptides interact with bacteria and their potential as a new class of infection-fighting drugs. He also looks at the role of genomics in antibiotic resistance.

Medical Genetics Prof. Michael Hayden investigates the relationship between genes and disease. His work has concentrated on two areas: a predictive test for the inherited Huntington's disease; and identifying new genes associated with high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol. He has also set up the only national program in the world that seeks to determine the psychological effects of genetic testing on patients.

Geography Prof. David Ley studies the effects of immigration on Canada's cities. He aims to assess how well immigrants integrate economically and whether immigrant communities or enclaves across Canada increase immigrant poverty. His work will help inform immigration policy.

Computer Science Prof. Alan Mackworth investigates artificial intelligence. The creator of soccer-playing robots that help explore the nature of perception and reasoning, he aims to build a model that links neuroscience and cognitive systems using computational intelligence. His research helps scientists understand vision systems for navigation and problem solving.

Robert S. Molday is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Ophthalmology. He studies the molecular, cellular and genetic interplay that leads to disease affecting vision. He is an expert on macular degeneration -- the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. His work will contribute to better diagnostic methods and new treatments for diseases of the retina.

Prof. Christopher Overall of Oral Biological and Medical Sciences, recently discovered a new protein that acts in the body as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and may be useful in developing new drugs to fight cancer, arthritis and other chronic inflammatory diseases. His work investigates a family of tissue and inflammatory enzymes that are produced by cells and act like molecular shears enabling cancer to spread in the body. New information could control or even prevent the progression of diseases including cancer, arthritis and HIV.

Computer Science Prof. Nicholas Pippenger studies problems with classical computer technologies as well as looking at how to move beyond the reach of conventional computers to quantum computing. His research into mathematical calculations of changes in computerized shapes will contribute to areas ranging from the study of DNA to the creation of advanced materials.

Prof. Tim Salcudean of Electrical and Computer Engineering develops computer interfaces that convey the forces of touch. These interfaces allow users to feel and apply the forces of interaction while manipulating remote or virtual environments. His work has enormous practical applications from the operating room table to the remote operation of forestry and mining equipment.

Zoology Prof. Dolph Schluter studies sticklebacks, a group of fish found in B.C.'s lakes and streams that have evolved in thousands of variants of the original species. By mapping their genes and evolutionary progress, Schluter is building a model that can help scientists understand how species become vulnerable to extinction.

Prof. John Schrader directs UBC's Biomedical Research Centre. His research involves determining the signals the immune system cells send to each other and how these signals might go wrong in a process known as a faulty immune response. A better understanding of immune response could aid in therapies for diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

Curriculum Studies Prof. Peter C. Seixas documents the sense of historical consciousness for high school students and teachers. Looking at historical narratives found in texts, films, museum exhibits and other media, he will explore how versions of the past interact. Findings will help inform public debate about the teaching of Canadian and world history.

Medical Genetics Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Simpson explores the links between genetics, brain development and behaviour. She is designing new models that will help illuminate the role of genetic mutations in disorders such as schizophrenia, dyslexia and pathological violence. Her work may lead to new diagnostic techniques and drug therapies for specific brain disorders.

Dr. A. Jon Stoessl, a professor of Neurology, uses new imaging technology to investigate the cause and effects of Parkinson's disease. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning offers detailed images of the brain's neural pathways that show how living brains are affected by and compensate for the damage caused by the disease. He will also try to determine if there are occupational risk factors for the disease. The new knowledge will aid in developing diagnostic tools and treatment guidelines.

Mark Vessey, an associate professor of English, is a Canadian literary and religious historian who studies how the Bible and other Christian writing influence culture and civilizations. One important aspect of his work concerns how scripture has influenced encounters between European and indigenous North American peoples and how those experiences are portrayed in Canadian literature, art and drama.

Janet Werker is a professor of Psychology who studies normal infant language development. Her documentation of the earliest stages of language learning will contribute to the early detection and treatment of children with language development problems. She also studies language development in bilingual and multilingual children, premature infants, and those genetically at risk for delayed language development.

more information

For more information on the program and full profiles of the chairholder visit the Web site at www.chairs.gc.ca.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.