U of G Awarded Two New Canada Research Chairs

February 23, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph will receive $2 million over the next five years through two new prestigious Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and the renewal of two others. The announcement was made today in Montreal by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology).

Profs. Myrna Dawson, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Kathryn Preuss, Department of Chemistry, have both been named new Tier 2 research chairs. As such, they are considered to have the potential to become world leaders in their fields and will receive $100,000 a year for five years.

In addition, Tier 2 chairs currently held by Profs. John Klironomos and Kevin McCann, Department of Integrative Biology, were renewed for another five years.

“We are delighted to welcome Profs. Dawson and Preuss to our outstanding cohort of distinguished CRCs, which now stands at 32,” said Prof. Kevin Hall, vice-president (research). “Their diverse groundbreaking research is illustrative of the depth and scope of Guelph’s expertise. And their research programs are well-aligned with our core focus of changing lives and improving life.”

Dawson will hold the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice. She will examine the effectiveness of violence prevention initiatives, specifically those targeted at domestic violence.

In recent decades, there has been a growth in resources and initiatives aimed at helping victims, increased support for community-based systems and changes made to the criminal justice system to make it more responsive, said Dawson, but the overall effect of these initiatives has not been systematically examined. She plans to determine whether the increase in violence prevention resources targeting domestic violence has contributed to the overall decline in this type of violence in Canada.

“Being awarded a CRC is an honour, particularly in this field, and an exciting opportunity to make an impact on violence prevention, which affects us all either directly or indirectly,” she said.

Given that the CRC is linked to two U of G departments — Sociology and Anthropology and Political Science — where there is strong scholarship in justice policy issues, “it will enable me to build on an already established and growing strength in our college as well as to move forward more intensely with some exciting initiatives that I have already begun with colleagues at other universities in Canada, the United States and overseas.”

Preuss was named the Canada Research Chair in the Chemistry of Molecular Materials, Natural Sciences and Engineering. She is working on the development of novel molecule-based “spintronics” materials, which take advantage of the quantum mechanical spin of charge carriers (electrons) in conducting and semi-conducting materials.

Such materials are deemed to be particularly promising candidates for the development of devices that can outstrip existing devices in terms of size and can perform logic functions not possible with current materials. For example, spintronics are expected to provide the first means of developing quantum computing devices capable of human-like artificial intelligence.

Preuss is part of Guelph’s Molecules and Materials Synthesis Group, where 10 faculty members are collaborating to create new materials and investigate properties of those substances.

Klironomos and McCann were originally awarded CRCs in 2003. Klironomos used his chair to establish a lab and training centre where scientists are exploring the biology and ecology of soil organisms, as well as the interactions and feedbacks between below-ground and above-ground communities and ecosystems.

McCann developed a research program to uncover the role and function of biodiversity in ecosystems, especially the role of the larger ecological systems and the potential for conserving them.

Ottawa established the CRC program in 2000 as a way of enabling Canadian universities to attract and retain excellent faculty. The program is governed by a steering committee made up of the presidents of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, as well as the deputy minister of Industry Canada.

Prof. Myrna Dawson
519 824-4120, Ext. 56028

Prof. Kathryn Preuss
519 824-4120, Ext. 56711

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt at Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982, bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1