UBC receives $11.5 from federal government to support researchers

December 02, 2016

UBC received a $11.5 million boost in federal funding across all disciplines, with 14 professors newly appointed or renewed as Canada Research Chairs.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, made the announcement today to recognize 203 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 48 postsecondary institutions across the country.

“I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the new and renewed Canada Research Chairs," said Minister Duncan. "The Government of Canada is proud to support talented researchers whose hard work will improve our scientific understanding and strengthen Canada's reputation for research excellence. The Chairs’ efforts will also provide us with the evidence needed to inform decisions that help us build a vibrant society and a strong middle class.”

The announcement will help support cutting-edge research across the country to advance, for example, research on addictions and mental health, as well as on the environment and climate change. These researchers improve our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen Canada's international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people through student supervision, teaching, and the coordination of other researchers' work—one breakthrough and discovery at a time. 

Today’s announcement will support 4 new chairs at UBC and will continue to support 10 renewed chairs.

UBC's new Canada Research Chairs:

Mary De Vera, Canada Research Chair in Medication Adherence, Utilization, and Outcomes, CIHR Tier 2

Dr. De Vera’s research aims to find novel ways to support patients in taking their medications as prescribed, including how health care providers can use electronic health technologies to deliver care and how to apply patient perceptions and input to the development of patient-centered adherence strategies.  Her goal is to address “medication matters” – issues, challenges, and problems associated with appropriate use of medications that keep patients with chronic diseases from obtaining optimal therapeutic outcomes and unnecessarily burdening the Canadian health care system.

Amin Ghaziani, Canada Research Chair in Sexuality and Urban Studies, SSHRC Tier 2

Dr. Ghaziani’s research program examines the spatial expressions of sexuality. He will execute this in three ways. First, census data shows that zip codes and postal codes associated with gay neighbourhoods are becoming less concentrated with same-sex households. What attitudes animate these demographic statistics? Second, although big city districts are diluting alongside widespread closures of gay businesses, tourism statistics show significant spikes in LGBT people targeting smaller resort towns. How can we explain these opposing trends of residential and leisure choices? Finally, if by “culture” we mean to analyze the way of life of sexual minorities, and if members of that group are integrating into the mainstream of American, British, and Canadian societies, then what are the implications for measuring the contributions of distinctive cultures? In common, these questions elevate the status of sexuality as a central node for intellectual inquiry and exchange.

Cara Haney, Canada Research Chair in Molecular mechanisms of host-microbiome interactions, CIHR Tier 2

Dr. Haney’s research will facilitate understanding how an individual’s genetics and environment determine their microbiome community composition and predisposition for associate diseases.  Susceptibility to both chronic inflammatory diseases and microbial infections is determined by the complex interplay between an individual’s genetics, their environment and their microbiome.  Dr. Haney uses the plant root-associated microbial community as a model for animal microbiomes with the goal of rapidly uncovering the factors that regulate the formation and function of the microbiome.  Her goal is to identify causative links between an individual’s genetics and environment, microbiome community structure, and host health to be able to translate these finding to animal models and ultimately treatment of human disease.

Mark Johnson, Canada Research Chair in Ecohydrology, NSERC Tier 2

Dr. Johnson’s is an ecohydrologist with significant research experience in forested and agricultural systems and human dimensions of water resources management in temperate, tropical and boreal climate.  His research primarily seeks to understand interactions between the water cycle and the carbon cycle, particularly as related to land-use and climate change impacts, in order to design and evaluate strategies for improving the sustainability of managed landscapes in rural and urban systems.  Dr. Johnson’s work will help improve environmental management practices by better understanding interactions between water resources and ecosystem services, including freshwater availability and carbon sequestration.
 

UBC's renewed Canada Research Chairs

Philip Ainslie, Canada Research Chair in Cerebrovascular Physiology, CIHR Tier 2

The brain is the most oxygen-dependent organ in the body, but many pathophysiological and environmental stresses reduce its oxygen supply.  Describing the influence of oxygen availability on cerebral blood flow (CBF) and brain metabolism has myriad clinical implications and is an essential step towards understanding brain energy homeostasis.  The primary objectives of Dr. Ainslie’s research program is to explicate the mechanisms by which oxygen regulates CBF in humans. His ongoing research will provide new insights into our understanding of the basis and treatment of myriad of clinical pathologies associated with impairment in cerebral blood flow regulation.

Edward Conway, Canada Research Chair in complement and coagulation in vascular disease, CIHR Tier 1

Most common diseases are associated with or even caused by inherited or acquired changes in blood-born biochemical systems, particularly those that control bleeding and clotting (coagulation), and those that control the response of the body to infections with invading organisms (complement).  The major focus of Dr. Conway’s research is to better understand the connections between these inter-related systems in the blood, with the aim of developing new treatments for common diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, obesity, atherosclerosis, thrombotic and bleeding disorders, and cancer.  Conway’s research could have a wide impact, leading new genetic insights to explain both common and rare diseases, and to develop innovative treatment approaches.

Kiley Hamlin, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychology, SSHRC Tier 2

Dr. Hamlin’s research program aims to elucidate the earliest developmental building blocks of moral action and judgement in infancy, before complex cognitive abilities (such as language and inhibitory control) are fully developed, and prior to extensive influence from cultural norms and values.  Her early work demonstrated that the capacity to evaluate others for their prosocial and antisocial behaviours emerges early in life.  Specifically, infants prefer those who help, rather than hinder, others in reaching their unfulfilled goals; this suggests that foundational aspects of mature moral judgement may be unlearned.  Her future research hopes to identify how these early building blocks interact with culture and other aspects of cognitive development to create mature moral beings, and to identify individuals at-risk for atypical moral development.  Ultimately, her research will facilitate our understanding of both typical and atypical moral development, and will aid in the development of interventions to promote optimal moral outcomes.

Elizabeth Hirsh, Canada Research Chair in Law and Inequality, SSHRC Tier 2

Dr. Hirsh’s research program focuses on the social context surrounding employment discrimination and the impact of antidiscrimination law on workplace equality.  Through interviews with plaintiffs in major discrimination lawsuits and analysis of legal data, she will explore questions of the law’s effectiveness and workers’ access to justice.  Using quantitative models, Dr. Hirsh will also examine the impact of lawsuits on workplace diversity and identify factors that minimize discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and motherhood status.  Her research will contribute to our understanding of workplace dynamics and the promise of antidiscrimination law in remedying economic inequality.

Vikram Krishnamurthy, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Signal Processing, NSERC Tier 1

Statistical signal processing and network optimization algorithms are critical components in the creation of future applications for many emerging industries, particularly wireless telecommunications, surveillance and target tracking defense networks, bioinformatics and robot navigation systems.  Dr. Krishnamurthy’s research program aims to develop novel algorithms and analysis methods for adaptive decision making in signal processing systems.  His fundamental research involves the interplay of Bayesian signal processing, stochastic optimization, control and game theory.  He considers three main applications: (i) Novel models, algorithms and analysis for information diffusion and estimation in social networks. (ii) Development of radar resources management algorithms and meta-level tracking algorithms for tracking multiple moving targets.  (iii) Dynamic models and control algorithms for biosensors build out of artificial cell membranes.

Shaylih Muehlmann Canada Research Chair in Language, Culture and the Environment, SSHRC Tier 2

Dr. Muehlman is international recognized for her research in the processes of environmental marginalization and structural violence in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands as well her theoretical approach to the analysis of identity formation amid situations of conflict.  Her current research focuses on advancing her analysis of environmental degradation and structural violence in the borderlands.  She intends to undertake a new research project based in Mexico City with will focus on women who have become active protestors of the government corruption and drug-war policies that have contributed to the escalation of violence in Mexico.  Her research will illuminate the ways many Mexican women have created collective forms of empowerment out of experiences of violence and suffering.

Sarah (Sally) Otto, Canada Research Chair in Theoretical and Experimental Evolution, NSERC Tier 1

Dr. Otto’s research focuses on the evolutionary forces acting on genome structure and sexual systems to account for the remarkable diversity among species.  Using mathematical models, she intends to explore the implications of conflict between different phases of the life cycle (e.g. conflicts between haploid sperm/eggs and diploid adults).  Using experimental evolution, she aims to uncover the processes underlying speciation in yeast.  Through whole genome sequencing, Dr. Otto will determine the genes contributing to reproductive isolation.  Finally, she is developing new bioinformatics tools to investigate the influence of traits on diversification and are applying these to a large-scale database on sexual systems.

Laurel Schafer, Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development, NSERC Tier 2

Dr. Schafer’s research interests bridge the areas of organometallic and organic chemistry.  She has developed a new class of complexes employing low toxicity metals that are easily modified and rapidly assembled.  This new family of catalysts shows remarkable reactivity in selective carbon-nitrogen and carbon-carbon bond forming reactions.  The focus of her research efforts is to develop readily accessed complexes that show promise for practical application in the final chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.  The development of these new catalytic systems builds toward the minimization of waste, and the maximization of energy efficiency to result in sustainable methods for industrially relevant chemical transformations.

Dominique Weis, Canada Research Chair in the Geochemistry of the Earth’s Mantle, NSERC Tier 1

Dr. Weis’s research aims to understand the geochemical evolution of our planet and its environment through time.   She incorporates field and lab experiments in geochemistry to quantify and explain the transfer of elements within and between the major geological reservoirs of the Earth, including its deep interior, oceans, and atmosphere.  Dr. Weis combines state-of-the-art analytical capabilities with studies of modern and ancient volcanoes, and of the fate of metal in the environment, to constrain the elemental pathways that shape the Earth.  Her work explores the fundamental scientific theory underlying mantle plumes, pollutant release/mobility, mineral exploration, and ecosystem function and is critical for the development of government policies for resource extraction and environmental standards.

Ralph Winter, Canada Research Chair in Business Economics and Public Policy, SSHRC Tier 1

Regardless of the commodity being sold, market intelligence is one of the key tools at the disposal of any business.  Failure to understand the market can have devastating effects on essential business strategies such as pricing, financing, inventory, product distribution and advertising.  Market intelligence is also critical for government policy.  Dr. Winter specializes in understanding what drives business strategies in markets with “frictions” such as imperfect information on the part of market participants.  His research program uses game theory and other types of analysis to develop and test theories of the organization of these markets and to assess government policy within the markets.

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