UBC Gains Four New Canada Research Chairs

The University of British Columbia will gain research strength in consumer behaviour, industrial automation, genetic epidemiology, and chemical biology with the appointment of four investigators to the university as Canada Research Chairs.

The four UBC positions – valued at more than $3.5 million – are part of a total federal contribution of $9.7 million which also includes nine renewed UBC Canada Research Chairs in this competition.

These Chairs are among 134 federally funded research positions, representing a total investment of close to $114 million distributed to universities, research institutes and hospitals across Canada. UBC has appointed 149 of the 168 Canada Research Chair positions allocated to the university.

 “Our government recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness, two main elements in our science and technology strategy,” noted Minister of State Gary Goodyear. “This is why we announced a $5.1-billion investment in science and technology in Budget 2009 — Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The Canada Research Chairs Program helps universities attract and retain the best researchers in the world, which promotes job creation, enhances the quality of life of Canadians and strengthens the economy for future generations.”

“These world-class researchers are a testament to UBC’s international reputation for excellence,” says John Hepburn, Vice-President, Research. “Both the university community and Canada will benefit significantly from the experience and leadership of these great minds.”

The federally funded research positions are designed to build Canada’s research capacity. An investment of $900 million will support the establishment of 2,000 Chairs at universities across the country.

Rui (Juliet) Zhu, Canada Research Chair in Consumer Behaviour and an assistant prof. in UBC’s Sauder School of Business, is examining a series of factors and utilizing real transaction data to understand consumer behavior. Her research will help marketing researchers and public policy makers better understand how consumers process information and make consumption decisions.

Canada Research Chair in Industrial Automation Clarence de Silva is the director of UBC’s Applied Science Research Centre. An expert in machine health monitoring, the prediction, detection and diagnosis of malfunctions in engineering systems and machines, de Silva is working to develop a unified framework for industrial systems and machinery that will integrate health monitoring with intelligent supervisory control.

Denise Daley, Canada Research Chair in Genetic Epidemiology, studies the genetic susceptibility to common complex diseases such as asthma and other related diseases. Her research focuses on understanding the increased prevalence of asthma and the genetic and environmental determinants of asthma in early life.

Canada Research Chair in Chemical Biology Stephen Withers, a professor in UBC’s Faculty of Science, is applying tools of chemistry to understand the roles of carbohydrates. His research is developing new methodologies for the synthesis of carbohydrate-based therapeutics.

Chair appointments provide research and salary support for either seven- or five-year terms. The seven-year terms are renewable; the five-year terms can be renewed once.

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