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UNB announces Canada Research Chairs

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Aug 14, 2019

Category: myUNB , UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton

Two new Canada Research Chairs have been appointed and one Canada Research Chair has been renewed at the University of New Brunswick, awards valued at $2.4 million.

Dr. Elizabeth Mancke, Dr. Stijn De Baerdemacker, and Dr. Veronica Whitford will continue their research excellence through the Canada Research Chairs Program, which highlights research in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

The Canada Research Chairs Program helps universities to attract and retain the best talent from around the world, assisting universities to achieve research excellence. Chairs advance the frontiers of knowledge in their fields, not only through their own work, but also by teaching and supervising students and coordinating the work of other researchers.

“UNB’s research ecosystem is comprised of exceptional faculty and graduate students conducting leading research enabled by our world-class research institutes, centres and labs. Canada Research Chairs like Dr. Mancke, Dr. De Baerdemacker and Dr. Whitford are essential to that ecosystem and contribute to our strengths,” says Dr. David MaGee, UNB’s vice-president research.

Dr. Mancke, a professor in history and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies, has been renewed for a seven-year term, studying how people in the Atlantic region regulated diverse commons and how multiple stakeholders negotiated sharing valuable natural resources. Working at the intersection of political history and environmental studies, Dr. Mancke’s research program will be the first multi-jurisdictional and longitudinal study of the commons in North America. It complements UNB’s world-class programs, such as the Canadian Rivers Institute and faculty of forestry.

During her first term as chair, Dr. Mancke began building the open-source British North America Legislative Database, to include legislation from all pre-Confederation colonies. This database is already supporting numerous research projects in North America, including research on the commons and a SSHRC-funded Partnership Development Grant with the Université de Moncton on militias in Atlantic Canada.

In addition to her research projects, Dr. Mancke was principal investigator on a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant resulting in a 21-essay volume, Violence, Order, and Unrest: A History of British North America, 1749-1876. She also served as an expert witness for the Madawaska Maliseet land claim.

Dr. De Baerdemacker, an associate professor in the chemistry department, has been named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Theoretical Chemistry for a five-year term. Dr. De Baerdemacker was brought to UNB from Belgium to conduct his research, which is the creation and development of efficient theoretical methods to solve the quantum many-body problem for small and finite-sized quantum systems. These can be used for the discovery of modern functional molecules and materials in drug design and material design, among others.

Dr. De Baerdemacker’s creative and interdisciplinary approach has produced significant results and contributions in different fields with publications in physical chemistry, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, computer science and applied mathematics. Many of his contributions span several of these disciplines and draw on his expertise in these complementary fields.

Dr. Veronica Whitford, an assistant professor in psychology, has been named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Bilingual Reading Across the Lifespan. Her research examines the behavioural and neural underpinnings of reading development and performance in monolinguals, bilinguals, and multilinguals, from early childhood to late adulthood. Dr. Whitford also investigates the processes in special populations, including those with language and learning disorders and those with psychiatric illnesses.

Her work will provide invaluable insights that will guide public policy aimed at improving literacy rates, labour productivity, and quality of life within Canada and lead to advances in the identification and treatment of reading disorders, age-related communication disorders, and mental health disorders.

Dr. Whitford was a post-doctoral fellow at Western University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In less than four years after completing her PhD, she has already made substantial contributions to the scholarly literature and scientific community and is being recognized as a leading expert in her field.

A total of 346 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at 52 Canadian postsecondary institutions were announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, in June, an investment totaling $275 million.

Tier 1 Chairs are tenable for seven years and renewable once, and awarded to outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. For each Tier 1 Chair, the institution receives $200,000 annually for seven years.

Tier 2 Chairs are tenable for five years and renewable once, and are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. For each Tier 2 Chair, the institution receives $100,000 annually for five years.

About Canada Research Chairs

The Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world's top countries in research and development. It invests approximately $295 million per year to attract and retain a diverse team of world-class researchers, to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye

Photo: Dr. Stijn De Baerdemacker. Credit: Jeff Crawford/UNB