Campus News

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

News Release

June 25, 2003

U of G gains four more Canada Research Chairs

The University of Guelph has added four more Canada Research Chairs – three of them new faculty members – to its growing cohort of distinguished CRC researchers, it was announced today.

The Guelph researchers are among 80 new CRC holders unveiled today in Ottawa by Industry Minister Allan Rock. U of G now has a total of 18 Canada Research Chairs, worth approximately $25 million when federal and provincial support is included. Established in 2000 as a way of enabling Canadian universities to attract and retain excellent faculty, the CRC program supports two types of chairs: Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 chairs are acknowledged as international leaders in their fields and are awarded $200,000 a year for seven years. Tier 2 chairs are considered to have the potential to become world leaders in their fields and receive $100,000 a year for five years. U of G expects to eventually have 35 chairs.

"It’s very exciting to have new research leaders join the University of Guelph,” said Alan Wildeman, vice-president (research). “They bring a broad spectrum of expertise to our research community and to Canada's capacity for discovery."

Zoologist Kevin McCann, who came to U of G from McGill University and received a Tier 2 chair to study ecological systems, called it “a tremendous honour. This type of award early in one’s career has the potential to open up research avenues and collaborations, both in Canada and internationally, that would otherwise be impossible.”

McCann plans to develop an internationally recognized research program that he hopes will begin to unfold the role and function of biodiversity in ecosystems. Until now, most research and conservation efforts have been geared towards the preservation of specific species rather than understanding the role of the larger ecological systems and the potential for conserving them, he said. “Our lab is interested in understanding these important large-scale ecological issues – the role of species, their interconnections and the way they integrate with the abiotic world to produce a stable functioning system.”

James France, currently a professor in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, said he, too, is proud to be a CRC holder. He was awarded a Tier 1 chair to establish a Centre for Nutritional Modelling in Animal Production Systems. “I am delighted to be coming to Guelph; it’s a great place to be,” he said. “The Department of Animal and Poultry Science is among the biggest and best in the world. There is no better place to attempt to create a world-class centre.”

He plans to develop methods and software to predict and manage prudent nutrient use on farms to minimize potential land, water and air pollution. His centre will initially house seven faculty and four research associates. On completion, it will include another eight research associates and post-doctoral researchers. It will also connect biologists from across Canada and the world.

Also joining U of G in the fall is Edward McBean, currently a vice-president with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, an international comprehensive engineering and environmental consulting firm. McBean, who has been on faculty at the University of Waterloo and taught at universities in California, received a Tier 1 chair to study water supply security and risk management in the School of Engineering.

McBean will develop cutting-edge detection methods that will indicate when a water system’s safety is in jeopardy, including through environmental factors, sabotage, water terrorism, threats and vandalism. He will focus on improving both the safety and sustainability of water supplies. The work will provide new insights into the feasibility of water protection and what steps will be most effective in managing the risk.

U of G botany professor John Klironomos received a Tier 2 chair to establish an advanced soil ecology analysis lab and training centre. Scientists will explore the biology and ecology of soil organisms, as well as the interactions and feedbacks between below-ground and above-ground communities and ecosystems.

“I feel honoured being chosen as a CRC,” Klironomos said. “It will provide me with a unique opportunity to enhance my research program and to interact with high-quality students and post-doc researchers.”

The Canada Research Chairs program is governed by a steering committee made up of the presidents of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Canadian Institutes of Health Research as well as the deputy minister of Industry Canada. Federal CRC funding is enhanced through contributions in support of research infrastructure from CFI and the Ontario Innovation Trust through its Ontario Distinguished Researchers Award.

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

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