First Canada Research Chairs Named

Month 2, 2001 For Immediate Release

Just a year after the program was created by the Federal Government, UNBC has been awarded its first two Canada Research Chairs. The key objective of the Canada Research Chairs program is to enable Canadian universities to attract and retain leading scholars who will assist universities in developing world-class research centres. Only one other small Canadian university (Trent University in Ontario) has performed as well as UNBC in this national program.
Last year, UNBC completed a strategic research plan and three priorities were identified: natural resources and the environment, rural and northern health, and community sustainability. UNBC's first Canada Research Chairs complement that research vision:
Joselito Arocena is a specialist in soil science and conducts research on mineral transformation for plant productivity and environmental issues. Dr Arocena believes that - through research - he can assess soil minerals to determine the long-term sustainability of forests, while also measuring environmental health and climate change. The role of fungi in triggering the release of potassium, magnesium, and calcium from soil minerals can help predict the long-term fertility of soils so Dr Arocena's research will also examine the potential for inoculating tree seedlings with fungi to enhance tree survival.
Greg Halseth's research aims to identify the trends at work in reshaping the economies of rural Canada. As a Canada Research Chair, Dr Halseth will continue to examine single industry resource towns in northern BC, where restructuring is changing all aspects of community life. Recently, he has been studying Mackenzie and Tumbler Ridge to determine their economic and social sustainability in the face of globalization. Improved transportation is one important factor; it's now easy for people to live and work in one community and spend their earnings in another. This economic leakage has ramifications for health care, protective services, and general quality of life. Click here for Greg Halseth's webpage and more CRC info.
Each of UNBC's Chairs is being funded at $100,000 per year for five years. The University is eligible to receive funding for up to seven Chairs total over the next few years.
The CRC is a $900 million federal program aimed at supporting outstanding researchers. It also gives universities an opportunity to retain their top researchers and recruit excellent researchers from around the world.
On April 25, 2001, the Honourable Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry, announced the 76 second-round recipients of Canada Research Chairs. Their appointments represent a $83 million investment in areas of expertise ranging from electrical and computer engineering through dentistry to history.
"By promoting leading-edge research and innovation in universities, the Canada Research Chairs Program provides exciting opportunities for Canadian researchers and attracts the best research minds in the world to Canadian universities," said Minister Tobin. "I warmly congratulate the University of Northern British Columbia recipients."

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