UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 05 | Mar.
I am very pleased to introduce to the campus community the
recipients of the Canada Research Chairs Program. As you will see,
represent research excellence in health, natural sciences, technology, social
sciences and humanities.
UBC placed among the top three universities in Canada in
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
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
Prof. Indira Samarasekera
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
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
looks at the design of human-computer interfaces and seeks to
improve the communication
between information technologies and users. His work has relevance
and building better business-customer communication.
Prof. John R. Grace of the Chemical and Biological
investigates two crucial environmental issues: the emission of
gases that cause
acid rain and the overproduction of greenhouse gases. His work will
to preventing climate change and, improving Canada’s energy
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
transmission, synchronization, and presentation of segments that interact in
multimedia systems. He will work in collaboration with researchers
Microelectronics and Information Technology cluster.
Robert E.W. Hancock is a professor of Microbiology and
specializes in antibiotic resistance and combating life-threatening
He examines the way groups of amino acids called peptides interact
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:
test for the inherited Huntington’s disease; and identifying new
with high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol. He has also set
up the only
national program in the world that seeks to determine the
of genetic testing on patients.
Geography Prof. David Ley studies the effects of
on Canada’s cities. He aims to assess how well immigrants integrate
and whether immigrant communities or enclaves across Canada
poverty. His work will help inform immigration policy.
Computer Science Prof. Alan Mackworth investigates
The creator of soccer-playing robots that help explore the nature
and reasoning, he aims to build a model that links neuroscience and cognitive
systems using computational intelligence. His research helps
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
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,
other chronic inflammatory diseases. His work investigates a family of tissue
and inflammatory enzymes that are produced by cells and act like
enabling cancer to spread in the body. New information could control or even
prevent the progression of diseases including cancer, arthritis and
Computer Science Prof. Nicholas Pippenger studies problems
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
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
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
is building a model that can help scientists understand how species
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
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
and drug therapies for specific brain disorders.
Dr. A. Jon Stoessl, a professor of Neurology, uses new
to investigate the cause and effects of Parkinson’s
Emission Tomography (PET) scanning offers detailed images of
the brain’s neural pathways that show how living brains are
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
and religious historian who studies how the Bible and other Christian writing
influence culture and civilizations. One important aspect of his
how scripture has influenced encounters between European and indigenous North
American peoples and how those experiences are portrayed in
art and drama.
Janet Werker is a professor of Psychology who studies normal infant
language development. Her documentation of the earliest stages of
will contribute to the early detection and treatment of children
development problems. She also studies language development in bilingual and
multilingual children, premature infants, and those genetically at risk for
delayed language development.
For more information on the program and full profiles of the chairholder visit
the Web site at www.chairs.gc.ca.