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Homecoming for new Canada Research Chair

Alan Jeffrey Giacomin has been named the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Rheology, and for him, it’s a homecoming. Born just a few blocks from campus, the position has brought him back to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Dupuis Hall where his university studies began.

“After nearly 30 years of professorship in Texas and Wisconsin, the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Rheology has lured me back to Canada,” says Dr. Giacomin (Sci’81). “The research funds attached to the CRC chair will help me build my rheology dream lab.”

Rheology is the study of sticky, runny elastic liquids, like moulded melted plastics, and how the motions of molecules make liquids gooey. Rheometers help us decipher how these liquids change shape.

Queen's three new Canada Research Chairs, from left: Alan Jeffrey Giacomin, Grégoire Webber and Jordan Poppenk.

Along with Dr. Giacomin, Queen’s has two new Tier 2 CRCs and five renewals. Jordan Poppenk (Psychology) has been named the Tier 2 NSERC Chair in Cognitive Neuroimaging and Grégoire Webber (Law) is the new Tier 2 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Chair (SSHRC) in Public Law and Philosophy of Law.

Dr. Poppenk’s research focuses on bringing memories to life. Using emerging brain imaging methods, he observes how memories interact and links these interactions to participants’ brain anatomy.

 “In my research, I attempt to explain how our particular memory abilities help to shape our many traits - for example, our personalities,” says Dr. Poppenk. “To support this work, I draw upon novel biomarkers derived from computationally intensive analysis of brain scans. CRC funding will contribute the research focus I need to consolidate these domains, while also helping me attract and support a world-class team of trainees to engage with my research program.”

Dr. Webber’s research program on human rights, public law, and authority and obligation explores the foundations of law and government.

“It is a special privilege to be awarded the Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law,” Dr. Webber says. “The chair's two research areas build on strengths at Queen's and promote the existing interactions between colleagues in law, philosophy and political studies.”

Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

“By supporting the most skilled and promising researchers, the CRC program facilitates cutting-edge research and advances Canada as a world leader in discovery and innovation. It also allows us to both attract and retain leading researchers in their respective fields” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).   “Our success in garnering three new chairs and five renewals is demonstrative of  Queen’s leadership in research areas that address some of the most challenging and complex problems facing the world today – from public law and climate change to the development of power electronics.”

The five CRC renewals include:

Praveen Jain - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Telecom Power Electronics. Dr. Jain is researching a smart microgrid platform that will address a growing demand for more eco-friendly energy sources.

Ian Moore - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Infrastructure Engineering. Dr. Moore’s research focuses on Canada’s huge pipe replacement and repair burden by establishing the remaining strength of deteriorated culverts, sewer and water pipes and determining the best way to repair them.

Douglas Munoz - Tier 1 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience. Dr. Munoz is using eye movements to assess brain function in health and disease and searching for novel biomarkers to accelerate the development of novel diagnostic procedures and treatments.

Ugo Piomelli - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Turbulence Simulation and Modelling. Dr. Piomelli is studying turbulence through computer simulations.

John Smol - Tier 1 NSERC Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Dr. Smol will continue to develop and apply paleolimnological approaches (the study of sediment) to examine environmental issues including climate change.

For more information visit the website.