Three new Canada Research Chairs for Dal

Brenda Beagan, Kimberley Hall and Norbert Zeh named

- September 10, 2007

Brenda Beagan's research is at the intersection of sociology and the health professions. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Beagan)

When Brenda Beagan was growing up in rural Prince Edward Island, she recalls that her hard-working mother couldn’t eat a single cookie without admonishing herself.

“She’d reach over for the plate and say, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t do this…” recalls Dr. Beagan, Associate Professor with the School of Occupational Therapy.

Why shouldn’t her mother have a cookie? Why do women make the food choices they do? How are those food choices influenced by their gender, class, race, or if they grew up in a rural or urban setting?

These are some of the questions Dr. Beagan will investigate as Canada Research Chair in Women’s Health. As a newly named chair, she’ll get $100,000 a year for five years to carry out her research.

“I tend to focus on social inequalities,” explains Dr. Beagan, who describes her research as being "at the intersection of sociology and the health professions."

“My research looks at how gender, race, culture and sexual orientation affect health and health care. What I’m hoping to do in these next five years is examine how those large-scale isms — racism, sexism and the like — actually shape the experience of health.”

She thrilled and a little surprised by the opportunity.

“I guess it’s because I’m a Maritimer, but I always think you’re not supposed to stand out too much… It feels like I’m setting myself up to a high fallutin’ know-it-all,” she says with a laugh. “But the beauty (of being a Canada Research Chair) is being able to focus on research for awhile.”

Quantam science

Kimberley Hall, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, and Norbert Zeh, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science, have also been named Canada Research Chairs.

For Dr. Hall, the five-year appointment means she'll be able to expand her research group and outfit her lab with a second ultrafast laser. A spintronics specialist, she uses lasers to study the spin properties of the electron with extreme precision.

As well, three Dalhousie professors had their appointments renewed. They are: Janice Graham (Bioethics); Christiane Poulin (Population Health and Addictions); Daniel Ruzzante (Marine Conservation Genetics).

The Canada Research Chair appointments were announced Monday, Sept. 10 by Secretary of State Diane Ablonczy at the University of Calgary. The three new appointments and three renewals bring Dalhousie’s number of chairholders to 50 and represent a $3-million investment by the federal government.

The Canada Research Chairs Program stands at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world's top countries for research and development. In 2000, the Government of Canada created a new permanent program to establish 2,000 research professorships in universities across the country by 2008. The Canada Research Chairs Program invests $300 million a year to attract and retain some of the world's most accomplished and promising minds.


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