U of G Gets $4.3 Million Via Canada Research Chairs

March 26, 2010 - News Release

The University of Guelph will receive $4.3 million over the next seven years through two new prestigious Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) and the renewal of three others. Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology), made the national announcement today in Ottawa. In total, there will be 187 new CRCs across the country, worth an estimated $165.5 million.

Guelph physics professor Carl Svensson was named a Tier 1 chair in gamma-ray spectroscopy and rare isotopes. Tier 1 chairs recognize researchers considered world leaders in their field and are worth $200,000 annually for seven years.

Economics professor Rene Kirkegaard was named a Tier 2 research chair in risk management and regulation. Tier 2 chairs receive $100,000 a year for five years and are considered scholars with potential to become world leaders in their fields.

“Research at U of G will be entering new dimensions with the addition of these two prestigious chairs,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research). “Guelph scientists will be examining unexplored frontiers — in accelerated radioactive ion-beam science and risk management and regulation — and positioning Guelph as a leader in providing both technology and knowledge in these fields.”

Svensson’s research is expected to help reveal crucial information about the structure of atomic nuclei. He is leading an international group of scientists who are developing a new instrument called GRIFFIN (Gamma-Ray Infrastructure for Fundamental Investigations of Nuclei) at TRIUMF, Canada’s world-leading nuclear and particle physics laboratory in Vancouver. There, Svensson also leads research with the TIGRESS detector designed for experiments with accelerated radioactive isotope beams.

“The combination of the TIGRESS and GRIFFIN detectors will provide Canadian scientists with unrivalled opportunities to perform gamma-ray spectroscopy research with both low-energy and accelerated beams of rare isotopes,” Svensson said.

He added that research with these new instruments will deepen understanding of forces that hold atomic nuclei together and processes by which stars produce chemical elements. “It will also attract leading scientists from around the world to perform their research in Canada.”

Kirkegaard, who joined U of G this year from Brock University, studies the growing significance of contests and auctions, including those involving online sites such as eBay. He will use game theory tools to analyze regulations governing contests and competitions involving risk and uncertainty.

Most contests and auctions involve many people with differing and private preferences, abilities and outside options, he said. “Other contestants are left to guess about characteristics of others in the competitions. The co-existence of all these factors complicates any formal analysis, and, as a result, people’s behaviour in such situations is poorly understood.”

He added that regulations are often intended to promote equity and fairness in auctions and contests. “But if the interactions in contests and auctions are not well understood, predicting the effect of complicated regulations may be a difficult and error-prone undertaking.”

In addition, a Tier 1 chair in global environmental change held by geography professor Barry Smit was renewed for another seven years. Smit examines social and economic implications of climate change and how to manage associated risks and opportunities.

Tier 2 chairs held by Profs. Georgia Mason, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, and Vladimir Ladizhansky, Department of Physics, were renewed for another five years. Mason studies the welfare of domestic and zoo animals. Ladizhansky is developing sophisticated techniques to investigate biological materials, research that could improve understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

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