By Paul Mayne, Western News
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, six Western researchers were named Canada Research Chairs (CRC), which recognize the country’s best scholars across disciplines. Another had his Chair renewed for an additional five years.
Coming to Western from Germany, Sweden, the United States and across Canada, these new Chairs are developing HIV vaccines, improving hearing and movement, learning how and why people migrate and immigrate, and exploring the foundations of physics. The six new chairs announced include:
Eric Arts, Tier 1 CRC in HIV Pathogenesis and Viral Control
One of the world’s leading HIV researchers, Arts is developing vaccines to prevent new HIV-1 infections and vaccines to cure people already infected and living with HIV. To do so, Arts, who came from Case Western University, is using newly developed technologies related to genetic engineering, immune surveillance and next-generation sequencing.
Trevor Birmingham, Tier 1 CRC in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
Birmingham, who was promoted from a Tier 2 Chair he held for 10 years, leads a transdisciplinary team of researchers using new biomechanical and imaging tools to test treatments intended to slow, halt or even reverse the progression of knee osteoarthritis. This condition affects more than 250 million people worldwide, causing tremendous personal and socioeconomic burden.
Mathias Dietz, Tier 2 CRC in Binaural Hearing
By understanding how the brain uses both ears to localize sound, Dietz hopes to develop new cochlear implant fitting routines and stimulate development of new hearing device technologies. Having recently come to Western from Germany, Dietz is exploring ways to develop cochlear implants that, when placed in the ear, ‘talk’ to each other, providing major benefits to the severely hearing impaired.
Michael Haan, Tier 2 CRC in Migration & Ethnic Relations
Haan uses ‘big data’ to understand how people respond to changes in industry: do they move when their plant closes? Do they rely on social assistance? Answers will inform debates on a wide range of topics, including employment insurance, labour market development, immigration and, more generally, the role of governments and citizens in a post-industrial welfare state.
Markus Müller, Tier 2 CRC in the Foundation of Physics
Müller, who comes to Western from Germany, applies mathematical tools to study the interplay of energy, probability and information in quantum physics and thermodynamics. His research has the potential to contribute important mathematical and philosophical insights on the foundations of physics and advance understandings of thermodynamics of small quantum systems.
Andrew Pruszynski, Tier 2 CRC in Sensorimotor Neuroscience
Pruszynski, who came to Western from Sweden, leverages expertise in robotics and neuroscience to understand the basic neural circuitry that underlies healthy and impaired movement – including reaching, grasping and object manipulation. This work will lead to better interventions and rehabilitation strategies following injuries and disease that compromise movement.
In addition to the new appointments, Brian Branfireun had his Tier 2 CRC in Environment & Sustainability renewed for another term following a full re-application process.
The Chairs program has been designed to encourage and promote top research and innovation in universities. Tier 1 Chairs are awarded $200,000 annually for seven years to fund their research and are awarded to outstanding researchers who have developed reputations as world leaders in their fields. Tier 2 Chairholders are awarded $100,000 annually for five years and are recognized as exceptional and emerging researchers with the potential to lead their respective fields.