Media Release | Oct. 12, 2011

Six new Canada Research Chairs appointed at UBC

Six new Canada Research Chairs have been appointed at the University of British Columbia and 11 more have been renewed, infusing $12.1 million into research at the university.

The chairs were announced Wednesday at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, as part of a national announcement of 253 chairs across Canada, totaling $203.9 million.

“The Canada Research Chair program has been instrumental in supporting and expanding research capacity at UBC and universities across the country,” says John Hepburn, Vice President Research and International at UBC. “It helps drive researchers in their pursuit of knowledge and the creation of new innovations.”

UBC’s new Canada Research Chair appointments will support research on brain health, fish physiology, psychology, discrimination, philosophy and catalyst development. The six new chairs are:

Philip Ainslie, an associate professor in the Faculty of Health and Social Development at UBC’s Okanagan campus, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Cerebrovascular Function in Health and Disease (Tier Two). Ainslie uses dynamic brain-imaging techniques with and without pharmacological manipulation to study the mechanisms that control human brain blood flow in disease and throughout aging. If brain blood flow drops below a critical level, brain cells begin to die which leads to loss of mental abilities.

Anthony Farrell, a professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and the Department of Zoology, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Fish Physiology, Culture and Conservation (Tier One). Farrell studies the design of the fish heart and how this organ functions in different species and variable environments. His research has direct applications in fisheries, aquaculture, fish conservation and perhaps biomedicine, and will be instrumental in assessing the impacts of global warming on fish distributions.

Kiley Hamlin, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychology (Tier 2). Her work focuses on the earliest development of moral cognition, examining whether pre-verbal infants make judgments about which behaviors and individuals are good and praiseworthy, and which are bad and blameworthy. She has discovered that before infants have learned language or been explicitly taught about right and wrong, they show adult-like social preferences for “good guys” over “bad guys.” This work has implications for the development and evolution of moral judgment in humans.

Elizabeth Hirsh, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Social Inequality and Law (Tier Two). Hirsh studies employment discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and ethnicity, and related laws and policies.  Her research asks how workers identify discrimination on the job, what leads them to file formal legal claims and whether lawsuits reduce employment discrimination among employers that are targeted. Her research will identify policies that promote fair employment practices and demonstrate how the law can be used most effectively for social change.

Carrie Jenkins, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy (Tier 2). Her current research concerns explanation, and it is her view that many of the deepest philosophical questions are really questions about what explains what. If this is right, then in order to have a chance of answering these questions it is first necessary to develop and apply a proper philosophical theory of how explanation works. Jenkins is working both to develop such a theory and on a range of key applications.

Laurel Schafer, a professor in the Faculty of Science, was appointed the Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development (Tier One). Schafer is investigating the use of a new family of catalysts that employs low toxicity metals that are easily modified and rapidly assembled. The development of these catalysts will help minimize waste and maximize energy efficiency in important chemical transformations for the fine chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.

The renewed appointments include:

  • Eric Accili – Canada Research Chair in Pacemaker Channel Biology (Tier Two)
  • Heinz Bauchke – Canada Research Chair in Convex Analysis and Optimization (Tier Two)
  • Dieter Brömme – Canada Research Chair in Proteases and Diseases (Tier One)
  • Michael Byers – Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law  (Tier One)
  • Kai Chan – Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Tier Two)
  • Adele Diamond – Canada Research Chair in Development Cognitive Neuroscience (Tier One)
  • Carlo Marra – Canada Research Chair in Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research (Tier Two)
  • Murdoch McAllister – Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Assessment and Statistics (Tier Two)
  • Susan Murch – Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry (Tier Two)
  • Jeremy Seamans – Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Mental Health and Addiction (Tier Two)
  • Tsering Shakya – Canada Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia (Tier Two)

Tier One chairs will each receive $200,000 in funding annually for seven years and Tier Two chairs will each receive $100,000 annually for five years. For more information on the Canada Research Chair program and the new chairs, visit


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Heather Amos
UBC Public Affairs
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Cell: 604.828.3867


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