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Six Canada Research Chairs announced for Queen’s

The Canada Research Chairs program advances the country’s position as a leader in discovery and innovation.

As part of a bundled science announcement made today by the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne five researchers at Queen’s University have been named Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs (CRC) – including two new appointments and three renewals  and one Tier 2 CRC. The prestigious honour recognizes outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields

The new CRCs are Katherine McKittrick (Gender Studies) (Tier 1), Caroline Pukall (Psychology) (Tier 1), and Kimberly Dunham-Snary (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) (Tier 2). Ying Zou (Electrical and Computer Engineering) has been promoted from a Tier 2 to a Tier 1 Chair, and, seeing a renewal of their Tier 1 CRC appointments, are Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), and Alan Jeffrey Giacomin (Chemical Engineering).

“The Canada Research Chairs program continues to attract  and retain our country’s best and brightest researchers,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “Each of these outstanding researchers will continue to contribute to new discoveries across multiple disciplines, enhancing the culture of research excellence here at Queen’s.” 

Support for cutting-edge research
As part of today’s bundled science announcement, Queen’s also received over $24 million in support from the New Frontiers in Research Fund: Transformation stream to advance research into cutting-edge molecular coatings that preserve metals from deteriorating. Additionally, for the 2020-21 period Queen’s University received a total of 281 Tri-Agency Scholarships and Fellowships for graduate students, with an overall funding value of more than $7.25 million.

The CRC program is a tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s national funding bodies. There are two levels to the CRC program: Tier 1 chairs (seven-year term) are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their respective fields, while Tier 2 chairs (five-year term) are recognized as emerging leaders in their research areas.

Currently, Queen’s is home to 49 Canada Research Chairs.

“I am beyond proud of the Canadian institutions and researchers who think outside disciplines and borders to tackle major challenges,” says Minister Champagne. “These programs are a catalyst for amplifying new voices, insights and discoveries that will answer communities’ needs, elevate our innovation hub and shape Canada’s prosperity for years to come. Congratulations to all recipients!”

Overall, on Wednesday, the Government of Canada, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), invested than $9.5 million in research infrastructure to support 43 Canada Research Chairs at 19 institutions across the country.

Queen’s new and renewed CRCs are:

Katherine McKittrickKatherine McKittrick (Gender Studies), CRC in Black Studies, Tier 1 (SSHRC)

Dr. McKittrick’s research program will analyze the interdisciplinary contours of Black Studies and the emergence of ecological and aesthetic themes in this field. Theorizing interdisciplinarity as a decolonial epistemology and methodology, the project uniquely decenters self-identity and emphasizes collaborative and creative knowledge-making as entwined with physiography. Specifically, drawing out and employing methodologies in Black Studies will uncover a sustained engagement with how the racial dimensions of climate catastrophe are creatively theorized in black communities.

Caroline PukallCaroline Pukall (Psychology), CRC in Sexual Health, Tier 1 (CIHR)

Genitopelvic pain affects one in five people, negatively impacting their sexuality, mental health, and quality of life. Dr. Pukall will reposition her work by focusing on genitopelvic pain in sexually- and gender diverse populations, significantly expanding the narrow lens inherent in the field by conducting an inclusive, online, longitudinal survey to establish key knowledge about pain and sexuality experiences, developing an effective pain management program that espouses diversity, and applying a multimethod framework to investigate the sensory and vascular correlates of pain.

Kimberly Dunham-SnaryKimberly Dunham-Snary (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), CRC in Mitochondrial and Metabolic Regulation in Health and Disease, Tier 2 (CIHR)

Dr. Dunham-Snary wants improve care for patients with cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs), including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure) by identifying a ‘fingerprint’ for CMD to enable early intervention for sub-populations at risk. CMDs are metabolic diseases associated with dysfunctional mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cell). She will will explore how mitochondrial structure and genetics alter the body’s cell signaling switchboard, causing cell growth, inflammation, and other issues leading to CMD. 

Ying ZouYing Zou (Electrical and Computer Engineering), CRC in Software Evolution, Tier 1 (NSERC)

We rely on software applications to pay our bills, to shop, and to stream videos online. Their quality is critical and cannot be compromised by their ever-increasing user base and programming complexity. Dr. Zou’s research program will develop leading-edge methods and tools in software analytics and apply machine learning techniques to build smart infrastructure that can provide intelligent support for software development and evolution, leading to a substantial improvement in software engineering practices with respect to the quality and cost-effective development and evolution of reliable software applications.

Mark DaymondMark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), CRC in Mechanics of Materials, Tier 1 (NSERC)

Understanding how materials deform and fail is crucial in many applications, as we try and design components. For example maximizing the lifetime of power plant components, or minimizing the weight of automotive components, with resultant fuel savings.  Practical engineering materials like metals are complex, inhomogeneous collections of crystals or grains. These grains have different behaviours dependent on orientation and surroundings. Dr. Daymond’s program investigates the influence of such local inhomogeneity and the resulting internal stress on materials' deformation as well as the processes occurring under stress and temperature fluctuations. One particular are of interest is the impact of radiation on local scale phenomena. The research will define deformation mechanisms that drive development of practical engineering techniques and component design.

Alan Jeffrey GiacominAlan Jeffrey Giacomin (Chemical Engineering, Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy), CRC in Physics of Fluids, Tier 1 (NSERC)

Dr. Giacomin will extend and advance his world-leading studies in rheology to embrace more broadly the physics of fluids, uncovering the physics underlying the flow of matter. Anticipated accomplishments with his team of highly-qualified graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will include predicting nonlinear rheological responses for any macromolecular shape; revealing how macromolecular structure affects polymer processing; and pioneering how the coronavirus spiked structure and its bulbous spike shapes determine the transport properties governing cell binding and infection.

Queen's is currently recruiting a number of new CRC positions in cutting-edge research areas, for more information, visit the Canada Research Chairs recruitment page on the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) Portfolio website.  To find out more about existing CRCs at Queen's, visit the Canada Research Chairs at Queen’s University.