Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 28, 2002

U of G adds two more Canada research chairs

The University of Guelph has been awarded two more prestigious Canada Research Chairs, Industry Minister Allan Rock announced today. Today's announcement brings the total number of Guelph's funded research chairs to nine, worth more than $12 million in total funding when federal and provincial infrastructure support is included.

Guelph psychology professor Serge Desmarais and botany professor Brian Husband will each receive $100,000 annually for five years as Tier 2 research chairs. Tier 2 chairs are considered by their peers to have the potential to become world leaders in their fields. Desmarais will hold the Canada Research Chair in Applied Social Psychology, examining perceptions and consequences of gender-based pay inequity. Husband will hold the Canada Research Chair in Plant Population and Evolutionary Biology, studying key aspects of plants sexual reproduction and the resulting gene exchange, and developing a framework for evaluating the effect of the exchange on plant populations.

Guelph expects to have 35 chairs funded over the next few years. "This is a very proud day for the University of Guelph," said Alan Wildeman, vice-president (research). "Professor's Husband's work will elevate the university's reputation for strength in life sciences and biological research on the national and international stages. It will also contribute significantly to expanding our knowledge in biotechnology, agriculture and biodiversity, areas that can benefit key sectors of the Canadian economy. The same can be said for Prof. Desmarais's research, which will delve into a crucial area of social research: how our work experiences shape who we are and, in turn, affect the world in which we live."

Desmarais, already well known internationally for his research on gender inequity, plans to pursue his work further as a Canada Research Chair. He will focus on three themes: re-analysing current entitlement theories, including looking at the factors that contribute to our entitlement perceptions; investigating the consequences of pay entitlement for people's work and home lives; and examining the human resource policies for work places that may be affected by documented gender differences in pay entitlement.

"It has been 25 years since feminist theory entered the general public's consciousness, and there have been several landmark legal decisions affecting both government and major corporations," Desmarais said. "Despite these facts, however, pay inequity between men and women who perform equal tasks remains a reality in many sectors of society." Desmarais, who has already published three books, 15 papers and numerous book chapters on various aspects of gender inequity, will look at how our work experiences and the pay people receive for work affect their sense of pay entitlement. He hopes to gain a better understanding of the impact of pay inequity and gender differences in issues of pay entitlement.

Husband will examine the underpinnings of plant biological diversity through research into sexual reproduction and the resulting patterns of gene exchange. His research will centre on plant mating patterns within and among populations, as well as among species, and will provide insights into the function and evolution of all plant populations. This will enable more informed strategies for managing sexual reproduction and its ecological and genetic consequences in agriculture, forestry and conservation, he said.

"The current status of biological diversity in Canada and globally has become a major focus for biologists, public policy-makers and society at large," he said. "It is integral to our quality of life, as it is the primary ingredient of the evolutionary process that governs whether an organism will adapt to a changing environment."

Husband will be working with researchers in the departments of botany, zoology, environmental biology and plant agriculture. He received an Ontario Premier's Research Excellence Award in 2000, serves as associate editor of the Canadian Journal of Botany and is the author of more than 40 scientific articles, many published in top international journals.

The Canada Research Chairs program was established in 2000 as a way of enabling Canadian universities to become world-class centres of research excellence by providing them with funds to attract and retain excellent faculty. Federal CRC funding is enhanced through contributions in support of research infrastructure from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) through its Ontario Distinguished Researcher's Award. Each agency provided an additional $51,570 to Desmarais and $73,476 to Husband to help cover equipment and operating costs.

The CRC program is governed by a steering committee made up of the presidents of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as well as the deputy minister of Industry Canada.


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