Campus News

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

News Release

April 24, 2003

Professor to take part in research initiative in Arctic

A University of Guelph zoology professor will participate in an international scientific mission involving 14 universities in the Canadian high Arctic, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced today.

Paul Hebert’s participation in the fall 2003 project is made possible thorough a CFI investment of $27.7 million to retrofit an existing icebreaker supplied by the Canadian Coastguard. The research ship will be equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation to undertake environmental and marine sciences in Northern areas that were not previously accessible to international and Canadian research communities.

Eventually, the research ship may provide research opportunities for Hebert, whose work in the Arctic examines how molecular studies can provide new insights into the diversity of life. Holder of a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biodiversity, he is currently focusing his research efforts on developing systems that generate biological identification through DNA bar codes and plans to apply this approach in the North. His past work in the arctic has added important insights to our understanding of breeding system shifts in arctic life and the dispersal routes used by organisms in recolonizing the North. In addition, his digital media group has been very active in developing educational resources that document polar life and environments (

“Our nation’s polar science capacity has been sadly diminished over the past decade,” Hebert said. “This CFI award represents an important reversal of fortune, a clear signal that our government recognizes that Canada must take a leadership role in northern science. The launch of this research vessel, coupled with funding commitment in the recent federal budget, means a sea change in our ability to contribute in a serious way to polar science.”

Alan Wildeman, U of G’s vice-president (research), called today’s announcement “welcome news. The University of Guelph has a long history of conducting innovative research with national and international partners at other universities, in government and in the private sector. This latest endeavour is an example of such a partnership, one that will benefit our researchers and students as well as Canada’s research community. Such collaborations are central to our mission of creating new knowledge and value for society.”

The CFI awarded funding for the project under its International Joint Ventures Fund. Industry Minister Allan Rock joined CFI president and CEO David Strangway for today’s announcement at l’Université Laval in Quebec City. “The CFI investment will enable Canadian researchers — working side by side with some of the best researchers in the world — to look at complex environmental, social, and economic issues that are the result of global warming,” Strangway said. “It will also provide a world-class facility to train young Canadians in areas that are critical for Canada as well as other nations in the world.”

The CFI was established in 1997 by the Canadian government to strengthen the capacity for innovation in Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals and other non-profit institutions.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338 or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

Email this entry to:

Message (optional):