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Attracting the best and brightest: Government of Canada announces new Canada Research Chairs at Dal

Posted by Michele Charlton, Laura Hynes Jenkins, Rebecca Rawcliffe and Nicole LeBlanc on May 12, 2017 in All News

Read the full story on Dal News.

Dalhousie is home to four new Canada Research Chairs, including one member of the Faculty of Science.

The Canada Research Chairs Program supports and attracts the world’s best researchers in the fields of engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Over 142 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs were announced earlier this month by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

From improving our understanding of chronic pain, to fostering sustainable relationships between Indigenous communities and community-based health researchers, emotional and addictive disorders and the integration of machine learning and visualization tools and techniques, Dal’s newest chair holders are truly making an impact.

Meet the new Dal Science Canada Research Chair

Sherry Stewart – Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Stewart is well known for her research on psychological factors contributing to alcohol abuse, pathological gambling, and the comorbidity of emotional and addictive disorders.

Emotional disorders (EDs; i.e., anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], and depression) and addictive disorders (ADs; i.e., substance use & gambling disorders) are common, costly and impairing. Dr. Stewart’s work will focus on understanding the complex relationship between the two disorders while developing and evaluating effective interventions.

“Understanding the mechanisms that link emotional disorders to addictive disorders will lead to identification of novel intervention targets to better help people suffering from these common and highly impairing forms of concurrent disorder,” says Dr. Stewart.

Two chairs renewed

In addition to the appointment of the new research chairs, two of Dal’s current Canada Research Chairs have been renewed.

Jeff Dahn – Professor, Dept. of Physics and Atmospheric Science

Widely considered Canada’s “Battery Man,” Jeff Dahn has been involved in the research and development and commercialization of lithium and lithium-ion batteries since 1978. He conducts a mix of fundamental and practical research that focuses on finding novel materials to satisfy the increasing demands for lithium-ion batteries, while at the same time building on those discoveries to improve energy production, storage and sustainability.

In the summer of 2016, Dr. Dahn began a five-year exclusive research partnership with Tesla Motors. The collaboration is a first between the leading American electric vehicle company and a university, and will help Tesla achieve better Li-ion cells for their innovative products.

Rudolf Uher – Professor, Department of Psychiatry (affiliated with the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience)

Dr. Uher’s research is making a difference on the lifelong impact of mental health by giving children the tools they need to counter issues like anxiety early on.

His research project, Families Overcoming Risks and Building Opportunities for Well-Being, is a new way to look at pre-empting mental illness. It examines “genetic sensitivities in families with parents who have existing mental illnesses. Over the next 10 years, Dr. Uher and his team will closely follow 300 children and adolescents to determine their susceptibility to three major mental illnesses: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression.

CFI & NSRIT support

Dr. Stewart and two other new chairs are also among 32 Canada Research Chairs to receive funding for state-of-the-art research tools from the Government of Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. The CFI partners with the Chairs Program to help universities attract and retain top researchers in Canada by equipping them with the tools they need to stay on the cutting edge. Additionally, these three researchers recently received funding from the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT). NSRIT supports research infrastructure in Nova Scotia by matching national funding from CFI.

More information about the Canada Research Chairs program can be found on their website.